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This classic work, first published in 1952, covers in detail the history of books from Caxton to the eve of the Civil War, discussing the evidence for public literacy, the regulation of the book trade, the demand for books, the authors, translators and printers of early books, and their methods.
It is a history of society at the opening of the Art of Printing, without which civilisation as we know it could hardly have taken shape at all - a chapter in the human story, unique in its significance and remarkably obscure before this book was first published. The author gives an account of the total output of books and pamphlets over the period, irrespective of their qualities as literature.