What Is A Book?: The Study Of Early Printed Books

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What Is a Book?: The Study of Early Printed Books

Joseph A. Dane’s What Is a Book? is an introduction to the study of books produced during the period of the hand press, dating from around 1450 through 1800. Using his own bibliographic interests as a guide, Dane selects illustrative examples primarily from fifteenth-century books, books of particular interest to students of English literature, and books central to the development of Anglo-American bibliography. Part I of What Is a Book? covers the basic procedures of printing and the parts of the physical book—size, paper, type, illustration; Part II treats the history of book-copies—from cataloging conventions and provenance to electronic media and their implications for the study of books.
 
Dane begins with the central distinction between a "book-copy"—the particular, individual, physical book—and a “book”—the abstract category that organizes these copies into editions, whereby each copy is interchangeable with any other. Among other issues, Dane addresses such basic questions as: How do students, bibliographers, and collectors discuss these things? And when is it legitimate to generalize on the basis of particular examples? Dane considers each issue in terms of a practical example or question a reader might confront: How do you identify...
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