RBS Course H-15 Advance Reading List: The History of the Book in America: A Survey from Colonial to Modern

This course is intended for individuals broadly interested in the history of the book in America, but who have little formal training or exposure to the subject. We will first examine the early trans-Atlantic trade in books, the beginning and early years of local print production, and the place of books, almanacs, and other printed documents in colonial British North America. Our focus will then shift to the establishment of a national book trade in an expanding United States during the industrial era, as well to various alternatives to that trade. We will investigate the industrialization and mechanization of book production, methods of bookselling and distribution inside and outside the trade, control of the trade and barriers to entry, and reading patterns in the United States, including among African Americans and recent immigrants from eastern Europe and Asia.

In the second half of the course, we will transition to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and discuss such developments as alternative and oppositional forms of publishing, the introduction of book clubs, mass-trade paperbacks, and the internet. We will close with a brief and necessarily speculative discussion of what the developments and trends we have traced mean for the future of books, publishing, and reading.
Scott E. Casper (created by)
Jeffrey D. Groves (created by)
External Resource