H-95. Reading Publishers’ Archives for the Study of the American Book - Advance Reading List

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  • Required Reading

    The literature, both academic and popular, on the social and cultural implications of bookkeeping, accounting, and the nature of business records in history is vast and varied, and you may wish to browse the library shelves for things that seem of interest. Here are three articles that I have found useful in thinking about these matters:

    McGaw, Judith A. “Accounting for Innovation: Technological Change and Business Practice in the Berkshire County Paper Industry.” Technology and Culture 26 (October 1985): 703–25.

    Zakim, Michael. “Bookkeeping as Ideology: Capitalist Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century America.” Common-Place 6 (April 2006), http://common-place.org/book/bookkeeping-as-ideology/.

    Kafka, Ben. “Paperwork: The State of the Discipline.” Book History 12 (2009):  340–53.

    No single book or study can serve as a specific guide to the study of publishers’ archives, but students will find that a solid understanding of publishing and book trade practices is indispensible for understanding these records. To that end, students would do well to familiarize themselves with the 5-volume A History of the Book in America series:

    Hall, David D., ed. A History of the Book in America. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000­–2010. Five volumes.

    I would suggest that students pay particular attention to the various chapters in each volume that address manufacturing, distribution, and the book trade, especially for the period that addresses their particular research interests.

    My survey essay, although written long ago, is also still useful:

    Winship, Michael. “Publishing in America: Needs and Opportunities for Research.” In Needs and Opportunities in the History of the Book: America, 1639-1876, edited by David D. Hall & John B. Hench, 61–102. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1987. Available online at: http://www.americanantiquarian.org/proceedings/44539374.pdf


  • Supplemental Reading

    The business records of the Boston publishers Ticknor and Fields are one of the richest survivals from the nineteenth century, and we will be using them repeatedly throughout the week. In preparation, students will benefit from perusing the following:

    Tryon, Warren S. and William Charvat, eds. The Cost Books of Ticknor and Fields. New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1949.  Read “Introduction,” pp. xiii–l.

    Winship, Michael. American Literary Publishing in the Nineteenth Century: The Business of Ticknor and Fields. Cambridge UP, 1995; paperback edition 2002.  Read “The Business Records of Ticknor and Fields,” pp. 24–38, and “Distribution and Ticknor and Fields,” pp. 148–69. 


    The following article about bitcoin by the British novelist John Lanchester is not immediately relevant to this course, but does provide an interesting and useful summary of the history of money and banking: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n08/john-lanchester/when-bitcoin-grows-up