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The Nature of the Book

Print and Knowledge in the Making

In The Nature of the Book, a tour de force of cultural history, Adrian Johns constructs an entirely original and vivid picture of print culture and its many arenas—commercial, intellectual, political, and individual.

"A compelling exposition of how authors, printers, booksellers and readers competed for power over the printed page. . . . The richness of Mr. Johns’s book lies in the splendid detail he has collected to describe the world of books in the first two centuries after the printing press arrived in England."—Alberto Manguel, Washington Times

"[A] mammoth and stimulating account of the place of print in the history of knowledge. . . . Johns has written a tremendously learned primer."—D. Graham Burnett, New Republic

"A detailed, engrossing, and genuinely eye-opening account of the formative stages of the print culture. . . . This is scholarship at its best."—Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor

"The most lucid and persuasive account of the new kind of knowledge produced by print. . . . A work to rank alongside McLuhan."—John Sutherland, The Independent

"Entertainingly written. . . . The most comprehensive account available . . . well documented and engaging."—Ian Maclean, Times Literary Supplement

Read a web feature Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Your Books.

776 pages | 125 halftones, 3 line drawings, 2 tables | 6-1/16 x 9-1/4 | © 1998

History: General History, History of Ideas

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
A Note on Conventions
1: Introduction: The Book of Nature and the Nature of the Book
2: Literatory Life: The Culture and Credibility of the Printed Book in Early Modern London
3: "The Advancement of Wholesome Knowledge": The Politics of Print and the Practices of Propriety
4: John Streater and the Knights of the Galaxy: Republicanism, Natural Knowledge, and the Politics of Printing
5: Faust and the Pirates: The Cultural Construction of the Printing Revolution
6: The Physiology of Reading: Print and the Passions
7: Piracy and Usurpation: Natural Philosophy in the Restoration
8: Histories of the Heavens: John Flamsteed, Isaac Newton, and the Historia Coelestis Britannica
9: Conclusion


American Historical Association: Leo Gershoy Award

Association of American Publishers: PROSE Book Award

SHARP: SHARP-DeLong Book History Prize

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