Book History Unbound: Transactions of the Written Word Made Public
Canadian Journal of History
A critical examination from the perspective of the historical disciplines of a multi-disciplinary field of study, this essay argues that the method and theory associated with the history of the book are valuable because they have the potential to capture evidence about cultural patterns and relationships. Drawing upon the work of other historians who have used this kind of evidence, the article stresses the elements of agency and community. The book is conceptualized broadly, not only as material object (as in bibliography) and written text (as in literary studies), but also as a cultural transaction. Readers are characterized as participating in an implicit transaction whereby they engaged both individually and collectively with the written culture in which they lived; that culture was in turn mediated by the book-trade agents who gave texts their material form and commercial value.
Howsam, Leslie. (2003). Book History Unbound: Transactions of the Written Word Made Public. Canadian Journal of History, 38 (1), 69-81.