Primary Source Literacy at USC Libraries & Beyond

Introduction to "A Short History of the (mostly Western) Book"

Introduction to “A Short History of the Book”

The history of the book is a long and complicated one and we will not be able to cover it all.
This being said, we will provide you with an overview of some of the most important developments and aspects in the history of the book. At the end of this page, we will provide you with further readings and resources, should you decide to dive deep into the history of the book. As we consider this platform to be dynamic, we expect to add more readings over time.

We should also mention that when scholars talk about the history of the book, they often focus on the history of the book in the Western world. This is, among other reasons, a result of privilege.

Book-collecting and the study of books were, and still are, activities for people who usually have the means and the time to dedicate to the subject matter. Thus many libraries or book collections were created by white (often male) people who collected mostly books written by (you guessed it!) white people (often men). It does not come as a surprise that most libraries and book collections are representative of the people who created them. As a result, the Western book tends to preserve the Western world view. 

Further Reading:
Matthew Symonds & Earle Havens: What is the History of the Book?

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