The Book Worlds of East Asia and Europe, 1450–1850

Connections and Comparisons

(東亞與歐洲的書籍世界, 1450–1850:聯繫與比較)

Edited by Joseph P. McDermott and Peter Burke

ISBN : 978-988-8208-08-1


October 2015

364 pages, 6″ x 9″, 4 color and 36 b&w illus.; 7 tables

  • HK$600.00
No longer available

This volume provides the first comparative survey of the relations between the two most active book worlds in Eurasia between 1450 and 1850. Prominent scholars in book history explore different approaches to publishing, printing, and book culture. They discuss the extent of technology transfer and book distribution between the two regions and show how much book historians of East Asia and Europe can learn from one another by raising new questions, exploring remarkable similarities and differences in these regions’ production, distribution, and consumption of books.

The chapters in turn show different ways of writing transnational comparative history. Whereas recent problems confronting research on European books can instruct researchers on East Asian book production, so can the privileged role of noncommercial publications in the East Asian textual record highlight for historians of the European book the singular contribution of commercial printing and market demands to the making of the European printed record. Likewise, although production growth was accompanied in both regions by a wider distribution of books, woodblock technology’s simplicity and mobility allowed for a shift in China of its production and distribution sites farther down the hierarchy of urban sites than was common in Europe. And, the different demands and consumption practices within these two regions’ expanding markets led to different genre preferences and uses as well as to the growth of distinctive female readerships. A substantial introduction pulls the work together and the volume ends with an essay that considers how these historical developments shape the present book worlds of Eurasia.

Joseph P. McDermott is Emeritus Reader in Chinese History, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St John’s College. He has written widely on Song through Ming social and economic history, including A Social History of the Chinese Book. Peter Burke is Emeritus Professor of Cultural History, University of Cambridge, Fellow of Emmanuel College, and Fellow of the British Academy. With Professor Asa Briggs he has written A Social History of the Media.

“This splendid volume offers expert new insight into the ways of producing, financing, distributing, and reading printed books in early modern Europe and East Asia. This is comparative history at its best, which leaves us with a better understanding of each context and of the challenges common to book cultures across space and time.” —Ann Blair, author of Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age and professor of history, Harvard University

“This engrossing account of the history of the book by leading specialists on the European and East Asian publishing worlds takes stock of what we know—and how much we still need to know—about the places that books had in the lives of our early modern forebears. Each chapter is masterful state-of-the-field coverage of its subject, and together they set a new standard for future studies of the book, East and West.” —Timothy Brook, author of The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties