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Some more great reviews

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday, we looked at some of the good reviews our books have recently received. Today we look at the rest!

 The History of the Library in Western Civilization IV: The Medieval World in the West – From Cassiodorus to Furnival by Konstantinos Staikos

Covering the period from about 330AD to the mid-14th century in only 500 pages, one understands that this in not a full-scale history of libraries over 1000 years in the West. Rather it is an overview, focusing on particular themes and vignettes that illustrate the evolution of library collections, management, architecture and users during this period. This is not to say that this work lacks scholarship; like the preceding volumes in the series, it is indeed a work of scholarship, with copious notes, in one instance nine pages of notes for 34 pages (and with copious illustrations), showing how deeply the author has read, synthesized and interpreted his knowledge of the facts.

Overall this work, like others in the series, offers a good overview and in this sense will stand the test of time.

-G. E. Gorman, Australian Library Journal

Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age by Joel Silver

Silver’s story is interestingly told, and he relies heavily on the letters exchanged by the two principal characters in it.

We do get an inside look at the back and forth negotiations between a major antiquarian bookseller and entertainer, and a major collector, and that is useful information to have. The book is generously illustrated, and since it reproduces the typography of the letterpress edition printed by the Bird & Bull Press in 2010, it is a more than usually handsome book for a trade edition.

-Bruce Whiteman, SHARP News

 Arthur Miller: A Descriptive Bibliography by George W. Crandell

Well bound and printed, there is an attractive dust jacket designed by Laura R. Williams.

It should be purchased by all libraries collecting twentieth century American literature and cultural achievements.

-William Baker, Emerald Journal, Reference Reviews

Historical Types from Gutenberg to Ashendene by Stan Knight 

Like its predecessor Historical Types a modest book in scale and appearance that deceptively hides a wealth of information, all of it solidly researched.

Promises to become an essential resource for anyone studying or teaching typography

-Paul Shaw, Codex Magazine

 Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography by Maura Ives

Nobody will doubt that Maura Ives’s meticulous bibliography is a much-needed contribution to the study of English literature.

Even scholars who have worked on Rossetti’s publishing history will find much that is new here, especially in the three central sections which detail many previously unrecorded appearances in print.

Ives’s documenting of the printings of Rossetti’s work by Robert Brothers of Boston, beginning with Poems (1866), is, by itseld, a notable contribution to understanding Rossetti’s publishing history and one which should encourage further research.

Maura Ives’s bibliography, evidently based on years of determined and careful research, should prove both an incitement to further scholarly work an and important resource for those undertaking that work.

It should be put beside Rebecca Crump’s edition of the poems in every university library.

-Simon Humphries, Victorian Poetry

Books as History: The Importance of Books beyond Their Texts by David Pearson

Chapter 1 (Books as History) raises questions regarding books in the suture, where the bookworld is going and how we will manage the book if we see it only as content and not as artifact. But does this diminish the content that matters most to the hoi polloi? Pearson challenges in a gentle, oblique way.

The other chapters, dealing with provenance, binding, ownership marking, marginalia, etc. are interesting and not overly precious. They convey the author’s message clearly and with excellent illustrations, as well as humour.

-G. E. Gorman, Australian Library Journal

 Rudyard Kipling: A Bibliography by David Alan Richards

Richards describes Livingston’s bibliography as “monumental” and Stewart’s as “magisterial”, and both adjectives can be applied to his own, which now replaces them.

The entries are by no means dry bibliographical details, but often contain lengthy notes of biographical interest

Unlike many bibliographies, this is therefore often a readable and interesting text, even for a non-specialist.

-David Geall, Emerald Journal, Reference Reviews

David Alan Richards has produced a masterful example of modern bibliographical research.

Rudyard Kipling: A Bibliography is an incredible resource to collectors of Kipling’s works and to bookbinders who are looking to identify binding copies of his first editions.

-Frank Lehmann, Guild of Book Workers

Greek Library: The Konstantinos Sp. Staikos Book Collection Henceforth the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Library by Konstantinos Sp. Staikos

The book is an aesthetic treasure and a fine resource. It reveals the long, rich history of Greek writing and its role in the formation of the modern Greek nation.

-Carol G. Thomas, SHARP News

 Small Books for the Common Man: A Descriptive Bibliography edited by John Meriton

Perhaps the first ironic detail to note about Small Books for the Common Man is the sheer bulk of this bibliography, containing as it does over 800 individual entries of nineteenth century chapbooks from the National Art Library’s collection. However, the book itself is a delight to behold and vastly informative on many levels.

Students, librarians, and archivists will all find something of interest

-Sarah Powell, Emerald Journal, Reference Reviews

Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms, and Use by G. Thomas Tanselle

Tanselle (Columbia Univ.) offers one of the very few books devoted to the study of the book jacket or dust jacket.

The text features 24 color plates and is superbly printed and bound.

Highly recommended. A general audience of book lovers, interested undergraduates, and researchers/faculty.

-W. Baker, CHOICE

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Books as History Review

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out a great review of Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts posted on Nigel Beale’s blog Nota Bene Books. In his review he says, “Though a stronger case than the one outlined can be made for e-books (what they will be capable of, how they will be able to record unique responses), and the importance of marginalia overstated (surely a notebook is a more efficient, capacious recorder of reader response and, as such, more valuable), Books as History ‘highlights an important aspect of the life of books in the context of the ongoing debate about their future,’ and as such, is well worth reading.” Thank you for an excellent review, Nigel! Click here to read more of the review, and click here to order Books as History.

Some Recent Reviews

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out these excellent reviews of books published or distributed by Oak Knoll Press that have been recently featured in some of the leading journals in the field of books.

Other People’s Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell

Other People’s Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell is the ultimate book about books: richly illustrated essays about famous association copies of rare books. Bibliophiles can only be grateful for such an artistically produced, scholarly, entertaining book on tell-tale copies that continues to be, in the digital half-world, still filled with devotion and awe for the printed book. —Pradeep Sebastian, The Hindu

Aun Aprendo: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Writings of Aldous Leonard Huxley by David Bromer—

Aun Aprendo was obviously assembled with ease of use in mind. Pages are uncrowded and crisply presented, with generous spacing and margens. Collectors, librarians, and booksellers will find this work indispensible. It is unquestionably now the standard work on the publications of Huxley.—Brian Cassidy, Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America Newsletter

The Last of the Great Swashbucklers: A Bio-Bibliography of Rafael Sabatini by Jesse F. Knight and Stephen Darley

I must shout my praise to the rooftops for Darley’s detailed descriptions of those jackets he had to hand. The main entries are very clear and detailed, and everything that anyone would hope for…To conclude, the bibliography has catered very well for the rational collector, and will prove to be an excellent addition to his shelves. —George Locke, Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association Newsletter

Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts by David Pearson

Even if you have read the first edition I highly recommend this revised one. —Sandy Cohen, Guild of Book Workers Newsletter

What he does, in eight lavishly illustrated chapters—is demolish the idea, current with the digital faithful, that physical books are passe, that they have been merely text all dressed up, now with no place to go. That book lovers will adore Books as History is a given, I believe. It’s a joy to behold, read, and digest. Stephen J. Gertz—Booktryst Blog

This chapter, like all of the others, is gorgeously illustrated with full-color images of bindings, bookplates, pages of print, pages of manuscript, dust jackets, advertisements, and book art; reading the captions alone would impress the unconverted. Pearson succeeds in providing a history of the book that is serious and though provoking without begin pedantic. In a perfect world, Books as History would be required reading for students of history, contemporary culture, literature, and library science. —Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books & Collections

Beautiful Bookbindings: A Thousand Years of the Bookbinder’s Art by P.J.M. Marks

The full-color photographs, especially the close-ups, are magnificent. Beautiful Bookbindings: A Thousand Years of the Bookbinder’s Art is a beautifully produced and printed art-book. The color photography is wonderful and the insights and occasional gossip fun. —Sandy Cohen, Guild of Book Workers Newsletter

Line, Shade and Shadow: The Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings by Lois Olcott Price

A labor of love for Price for over two decades, this work amply rewards those who have long awaited its publication. The abundance, large photographs by Jim Schenck compliment Price’s descriptive text. High praise goes to Price for clearly presenting a myriad of helpful solutions for a large array of materials and collections. It is nice to have information that was once missing, now all in one place. —Stephanie Watkins, WAAC Newsletter

The book is technical in its precision, full of excellent illustrated examples, and accessible in its straighforwardness. —L.E. Carranza, CHOICE

Congratulations again to Lois Olcott Price for being the winner of the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize!

A review and a catalogue mention in Fine Books Notes

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The August issue of Fine Books Notes has an excellent review of David Pearson’s revised edition of Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts.

What do books offer us, beyond words, and how do their physical formats and design characteristics contribute to their overall impact? Where do we draw the line between the book as a text and the book as an object, something which cannot be entirely replicated by transferring the content to another medium?”

David Pearson, Director of Libraries, Archives, and Guildhall Art Gallery at the City of London, presents this set of questions and then explores the various ways that physical books speak to those who will listen—through the way they are printed, illustrated, bound, annotated, altered, or defaced. It is a topic of obvious importance to historians, curators, librarians, and book collectors, but also one that is becoming ever more crucial to a wider audience of people concerned with the idea of ‘libraries without books,’ and physical books versus e-books. Pearson persuades us that it is time to separate books from texts, and let them go their merry ways.

Click here to read more.

In addition, the newsletter also mentions our Catalogue 297 in the catalogues received section. Catalogue 297 is another that contains our new method of photography, displaying beautiful black-and-white images.

Click here to check out the new issue of Fine Books Notes.

A review of Books as History on the Booktryst blog

June 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out a review of Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts by David Pearson posted on the Booktryst blog of Stephen J. Gertz.

If every book tells a story, every book has a story.

Until recently, a book’s text and its physical manifestation were indivisible, their stories intertwined. With the advent of ebooks, however, text is now independent of what we’ve come to understand as a “book,” a physical object with metaphysical content that, in its origins, was presented as scrolled, later bound, manuscript, and then, with Gutenberg, as bound leaves of print.

A day cannot go by, it seems, without an article tolling the death knell of the book, either heralding a new, golden age of information delivery and consumption, or as a mournful elegy. Soon, it seems, lovers of traditional books will be consulting mediums to reach beyond the veil and communicate with beloved books in the great hereafter. We’ll want to know how they’re doing, tell them how much we love and miss them, and express sorrow for not defending them heartily enough when they were still with us but struggling for their lives. We need comfort and consolation.

In the absence of David Dunglas Home, the 19th century Scottish spiritualist and medium, David Pearson, Director of Libraries, Archives, and Guildhall Art Gallery at the City of London, is here to say, It’s okay…

Click here to read the full review. Thanks for an excellent review, Stephen!

An Excerpt from Books as History

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Revised paperback edition

While most people think of books in terms of their contents or texts, Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts by David Pearson explains that books possess qualities beyond their texts. He shows how books can be seen as designed or artistic objects.  In this excerpt, Pearson discusses how bookbindings have developed and changed over the years, while adding various levels of uniqueness to books.

Every binding tells a story, whether it is deluxe or humble. Binders offered their customers a choice, a spectrum of options from the simple to the elaborate, and the preferences they exercised can tell us something both about them and about their approach to the texts inside the books. These choices applied not only to external, decorative qualities but also to structural ones; there are various ways in which it is possible to cut corners in the sewing or other internal features of a handmade binding, leading to a cheaper but less hardwearing product. Early instructions from patrons to bookbinders are scarce, but where they do survive they often stress the importance of sturdy sewing and good quality handiwork rather than handsome tooling.

Fancy bindings reveal owners who could afford to pay that bit extra, or perhaps people who wished to display their wealth or status on their bookshelves; or they may be covering books which were regarded as particularly important. Simpler bindings can be equally revealing of personal histories; many of the books owned by John Donne, when he was a struggling and impoverished poet, are bound in parchment wrappers rather than leather, the cheap (or softback) option of the time. Books have often been bound and rebound, or repaired, more than once during their history and  those staging posts can indicate the changing regard for the texts inside. A book which has survived several centuries in pristine condition suggests a text which has not exactly been eagerly sought out. Many of the copies of Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio now found in libraries around the world are in top quality nineteenth-century bindings, reflecting the veneration in which that book then came to be held; the few copies (of more than 200 surviving) which retain contemporary bindings are mostly very plain. A seventeenth-century devotional text is much more likely to be found in a fine binding of its period than a literary one, in line with the values of that time, although we now consider literature to be far more important than theology.

While wealthy book owners could afford to have their bindings finely decorated, the less well-to-do had to accept something plainer. This book was made in 1604 for Sir Charles Somerset

A binding will not only carry these messages which we can interpret, but also more immediate information about where and when it was made. A wall of leather-bound books may at first glance look pretty uniform but although the basic materials and construction methods of bookbindings remained substantially unchanged for many centuries, the decorative conventions underwent steady change from one generation to another, in line with the ever shifting more general currents of ornamental fashion. Just as sixteenth-century architecture or silverware are recognisably different from their eighteenth-century equivalents, so bookbindings are visually distinctive from one generation to another. This applies not only to handsomely decorated fine bindings, but also to much simpler ones; a sixpenny binding of 1600 is not the same as one of 1700, or even 1650. Unlike printers, bookbinders only rarely signed their work and we cannot often identify individual craftsmen; they worked within the stylistic conventions of their day and neither the binders, nor their customers, looked for individuality of design. What we can do, however, is place a particular binding within its time and place – we can recognise that it is English, or German, or French, and approximately when it was made – and also say whereabouts, within the range of options of its time, it sits.

Learn even more about this book and hear a panel discussion on “Collecting the Physical Book in a Digital Age,” at the Grolier Club on April 5 from 4-7pm. Bob Fleck will be giving a presentation that includes references to Books as History, while other speakers including Gary L. Strong and David Rose also share their opinions. The discussion will be moderated by Susan M. Allen. Click here for more information on the event and click here for more information on Books as History. The revised, paperback edition will be available in May.