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Old Books, New Technologies
The Representation, Conservation and Transformation of Books since 1700


  • Date Published: April 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107035935

$ 103.00

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About the Authors
  • As we rely increasingly on digital resources, and libraries discard large parts of their older collections, what is our responsibility to preserve 'old books' for the future? David McKitterick's lively and wide-ranging study explores how old books have been represented and interpreted from the eighteenth century to the present day. Conservation of these texts has taken many forms, from early methods of counterfeiting, imitation and rebinding to modern practices of microfilming, digitisation and photography. Using a comprehensive range of examples, McKitterick reveals these practices and their effects to address wider questions surrounding the value of printed books, both in terms of their content and their status as historical objects. Creating a link between historical approaches and the emerging technologies of the future, this book furthers our understanding of old books and their significance in a world of emerging digital technology.

    • Examines changes in attitudes to old books since the seventeenth century, setting current debates about digital reproduction in their historical context
    • Makes use of a wide range of examples from Britain and western Europe to show how and when our attitudes towards old books have changed
    • Focuses especially on the second half of the nineteenth century to explore how a reading public for old books developed
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A learned, sensible and well-written piece of historical scholarship.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'The great value of [this] book is that it attempts to provide a larger, longer-term context for understanding what is happening today not (primarily) to new books but to retrospective collections, as more and more are digitized and made available on the web. If the meaning and status of these historical artifacts are being challenged today in new and menacing ways, it is not for the first time. The history of the transmission and evaluation of old books is itself the record of shifting approaches to these artifacts … what makes McKitterick's narrative so compelling is the wealth of detail it includes as well as the breadth of cultural objects it embraces. McKitterick alerts us at every point that what was true for books was true for sculptures, paintings, buildings, and the whole repertoire of culturally significant objects …' College and Research Libraries

    'This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in old books, both from the perspective of how their content as well as physical characteristics have been preserved. … Although quite detailed, Old Books, New Technologies is not a heavy academic tome and makes for an enjoyable read. It provides an interesting view of how old books were considered and treated during the 18th and 19th centuries.' Mary McIntyre, Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107035935
    • length: 294 pages
    • dimensions: 252 x 180 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.76kg
    • contains: 23 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The past in pixels
    2. Restoration and invention
    3. Conservation, counterfeiting and bookbinding
    4. Representation and imitation
    5. From copying to facsimile
    6. The arrival of photography
    7. Public exhibition
    8. The Caxton exhibition of 1877
    9. A bibliographical and public revolution
    10. Conclusion.

  • Author

    David McKitterick, University of Cambridge
    David McKitterick is Librarian and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His books include A History of Cambridge University Press (three volumes, 1992–2004) and Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 1450–1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2003). He is also a general editor of The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain series.

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