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For over five hundred years in the West, a particular form of the book—the printed codex—has been woven into the fabric of our lives. It has been the default medium for publicly circulating information and entertainment, and has structured the work, leisure and religious devotion of countless people. Now, as the cultural centrality of the printed book is challenged, we are prompted to reassess its value and its place in the history of media change.
Readable but rooted in current scholarship, this introductory guide to book history tries not to privilege any one disciplinary perspective or historical period. Rather, the guide and its accompanying anthology aim to help the reader to find his or her bearings within the field, and to provide a map with which to navigate book history more widely.