6 x 9
While the technological hype that dominated the 1990s eventually collided with reality and subsided, one of the period’s most tenacious ideas has not: the conviction that the future of books is in jeopardy. Yet the promise—or peril—of widespread textual availability on the Internet, along with the economic pressures of globalization, has had the unexpected beneficial effect of sparking interest in the relatively young discipline of the history of the book.
The essays collected in Literary Cultures and the Material Book cast a wide net—from China and Russia to South America and New Zealand—to investigate the vital relationship between actual, physical books and the study of literary cultures. How books are created, sold, and experienced as material objects is a fascinating and little understood element of literary culture, and the contributors to this volume build on the pioneering work of earlier scholars to bring the discipline into the present. As books enter uncharted and uncertain territory in the twenty-first century, understanding their impact on our globalized culture is more important than ever.