Welcome to the History of the Book Coursebook

This online course book uses materials in the UCLA Special Collections as the basis of a bibliographically based approach to the history of the book. Every chapter is structured around artifacts, sometimes of the period under discussion, and sometimes simply referencing those periods (as in section 1. Prehistory). The chapters are meant to provide a through-line narrative for the history of the book, an introduction for anyone interested in a basic overview of major developments, changes in technology, cultural attitudes, circumstances, or other aspects of this history. A field so vast, so complex, so intricately engaged in the history of human culture cannot be treated in such a succinct manner without running roughshod over many substantive issues. But as no comprehensive single narrative history exists, this is meant to provide such a basic text. The topics and subsections of each chapter will proliferate over time, as each successive class or iteration of the project offers an opportunity for additions. Likewise, the sections on references, bibliographical materials, particularly online collections and resources, will continue to develop.

I am grateful to the UCLA Library, and the exceptional staff at Special Collections, for their support of this project, as well as to the many students, all named, for their contributions as well.

This material is freely available for use, but if you cite, quote, or re-use any materials here, please cite as you would a print publication.

Johanna Drucker