ATG Book of the Week: Book Parts

by | Sep 19, 2019 | 0 comments

Title: Book Parts
Editors: Dennis Duncan and Adam Smyth;
Hardcover: ISBN: 9780198812463, $40;
Imprint: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019

 

What would an anatomy of the book look like? There is the main text, of course, the file that the author proudly submits to their publisher. But around this, hemming it in on the page or enclosing it at the front and back of the book, there are dozens of other texts–page numbers and running heads, copyright statements and errata lists–each possessed of particular conventions, each with their own lively histories. To consider these paratexts–recalling them from the margins, letting them take centre stage–is to be reminded that no book is the sole work of the author whose name appears on the cover; rather, every book is the sum of a series of collaborations. It is to be reminded, also, that not everything is intended for us, the readers. There are sections that are solely directed at others–binders, librarians, lawyers–parts of the book that, if they are working well, are working discreetly, like a theatrical prompt, whispering out of the audience’s ear-shot

Book Parts is a bold and imaginative intervention in the fast growing field of book history: it pulls the book apart. Over twenty-two chapters, Book Parts tells the story of the components of the book: from title pages to endleaves; from dust jackets to indexes–and just about everything in between. Book Parts covers a broad historical range that runs from the pre-print era to the digital, bringing together the expertise of some of the most exciting scholars working on book history today in order to shine a new light on these elements hiding in plain sight in the books we all read.”

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