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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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The Oxford Companion to the Book

ISBN13: 9780198606536
Published: January 2010
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback, 2 Volumes
Price: £252.50

Despatched in 4 to 6 days.

The Oxford Companion to the Book is a unique work of reference, covering the book, broadly conceived, throughout the world from ancient to modern times.

It includes traditional subjects such as bibliography, palaeography, the history of printing, editorial theory and practice, textual criticism, book collecting, and libraries, but it also engages with newer disciplines such as the history of the book and the electronic book. It pays particular attention to how different societies shape books and how books shape societies.

The two-volume work is organized in two parts, totalling a million words. The first part is a substantial series of introductory essays, making up about a third of the text. Nineteen of the essays provide generic histories of the subject ranging from writing systems, the ancient and the medieval book, through central aspects of book production, to theories of text, editorial theory and textual criticism, the economics of print, and the sacred book.

These are complemented by 29 surveys of the history of the book around the world, including the Muslim world, Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The second part of the Companion comprises an A-Z section of over 5,000 entries on every aspect of this exceptionally rich and diverse subject, ranging from brief definitions and biographical entries to more extensive treatments of up to 2,000 words.

The two parts are linked by thorough cross-referencing (both between and within the sections) and the whole is also served by a general index and a classified index of entries. The text is illustrated throughout with reproductions, diagrams, and examples of various typographical features.

The contents of the book have been planned around the following scheme which aptly illustrates the breadth and depth of this most interdisciplinary of subjects:-
  • book genres of every kind including dictionaries, government documents, and music
  • all aspects of the physical book, and a generous coverage of individual bookbinders, paper-makers, typographers, type-founders, and designers
  • authorship, including issues of attribution, authors' societies and communities, forgeries and hoaxes
  • the entire reproduction process over the centuries (in both Asia and the West), not forgetting individual engravers, illuminators, and illustrators
  • printers and publishers around the world, plus book-trade organizations, and patronage
  • intellectual property issues
  • distribution and sales, comprising international coverage of booksellers, as well as book clubs, auction houses, and advertising
  • preservation, covering not only libraries and library systems but also individual collectors, librarians, and professional associations
  • suppression of the book, including censorship and stamp acts, and issues surrounding blasphemy and pornography
  • scholarship, covering bibliography, editions, and scholarly centres and organizations, as well as numerous individual scholars in all parts of the world
  • aspects of reading and reception, including book organizations and literary prizes
  • a broad range of periodicals encompassing literary, professional and trade, and scholarly and bibliophile interests
  • named manuscripts, scripts, and individual scribes and calligraphers
  • individual books as exemplars of book history
The Companion is the only reference book of its kind in the field. It has been written by 400 of the world's best scholars in bibliography and book history, and will have an international readership. As appropriate to its subject matter, the finished book is designed to be both exceptionally practical and aesthetically pleasing.