SHARP DeLong Book History Book Prize 2020

SHARP annually awards a $1,000 prize to the author of the best book on any aspect of the creation, dissemination, or uses of script or print published in the previous year. Owing to the generosity of the DeLong family in endowing the prize, from 2004 it has been known as the George A. and Jean S. DeLong Book History Book Prize.

Submissions are now open for the 2020 Prize.

All submissions must be in English and must have been copyrighted in 2019. (Translations of works originally copyrighted earlier are eligible, but the translations themselves must have been copyrighted in 2019.) Because the purpose of the prize is to honor the work of an individual scholar or of scholars working closely together writing a jointly-authored monograph, collections of essays, reference works, and bibliographies and other collaborative projects are not eligible and will not be considered. If you are unsure whether a title would be eligible, please use the contact details in the next paragraph to check before sending copies.

Submissions must be in the possession of all members of the jury by Monday 13th January 2020. Please submit four print copies of each entry, one to each member of the jury (addresses below). Please send an email to Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, SHARP Director for Awards (, to confirm that you have submitted your title(s).  General queries regarding the prize should be directed to the same email. Please note that copies of books are non-returnable.

Details of past winners and commended titles are available at


Fiona Black
School of Information Management -Dalhousie University
6100 University Avenue, Suite 4010
PO Box 15000, Halifax, Canada, NS B3H 4R2

Michael Hancher
Department of English
207 Lind Hall
207 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

Martyn Lyons,
School of Humanities and Languages,
University of New South Wales,
Sydney NSW 2052,
(via Gate 8 in High Street, Randwick, opposite the racecourse)

Brigitte Ouvry Vial
Faculté des Lettres
Langues, litteratures, linguistique des universités d’Angers et du Mans
Le Mans Université
Avenue Olivier Messiaen, 72085 Le Mans, France

If you require phone numbers for courier delivery, please contact Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (

SHARP 25th Anniversary Research Fellowship

To celebrate a quarter century of SHARP successes, the Board and Executive Council of the Society have established an annual research fellowship.  Designed to enhance SHARP’s global scope as an academic society, the fellowship provides support for research anywhere in the world.  The grants are for up to US$3000 and can be used for travel, accommodation and direct research costs, such as photography. Full details and a link to our online application form are available here.  Applications open in early September and close 1 December each year. Please note that only SHARP members are eligible for this award.

The George A. and Jean S. DeLong Book History Book Prize 2019

Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) is delighted to announce the award of the 2019 DeLong Book History Book Prize to Brent Nongbri, Professor, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Norway and Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Australia for his title God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts (Yale
University Press).

In announcing the Prize at SHARP’s annual conference in Amherst, USA, Claire Squires, SHARP’s Director of Publications and Awards commented:

This path-breaking contribution to the field of book history urges us to reconsider beliefs and concepts that have been fundamental in the formation of religious and cultural history while captivating the reader with its exciting, Indiana Jones-esque research story.
Nongbri gives a fascinating, nuanced, and revisionist interpretation of a rich array of ancient manuscripts. In so doing he throws light on the origins of the Christian codex, and warns of the dangers of reading into the past an anachronistic view of the Biblical canon. Exerting his expertise in palaeography and codicology, including attention to stitching and binding techniques, Nongbri highlights the lack of certainty about the provenance, authorship, date, and place of origin of many influential papyrus and parchment manuscripts. The judges praise Nongbri’s amalgam of thorough knowledge about techniques and materiality, his exhaustive archival research, and the analytical sharpness that he brings to bear on this important history. This is a story that involves untrustworthy antiquities dealers, private collectors spreading false information to put their rivals off the scent of discoveries, cave raiders, and the accidental discovery of papyri. God’s Library is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of beliefs, which is, of course,
also a history of books.

Brent Nongbri receives $1,000 as winner of the SHARP DeLong Book History Book Prize.

Commendations were also made to David McKitterick (University of Cambridge) for The Invention of Rare Books: Private Interest and Public Memory, 1600–1840 (Cambridge University Press) and Adam Smyth (University of Oxford) for Material Texts in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press).


SHARP Regional Liaison Reports

SHARP is pleased to announce that its regional liaison annual reports are now available online: please follow the link under the My SHARP section of the website.

These reports date back to 2012, and have been compiled by our regional liaisons. The archive is not entirely complete but it does offer a unique and valuable insight into SHARP-related research and activities from around the world, often gathering regional information together in one place that is not available from other sources.

Happy browsing,

Simon Frost, Director of Transnational Affairs

Crisis or Enlightenment? Developments in the Book Trade, 1650-1750. St Andrews Book Conference, 20-22 June 2019

It has never been questioned that the European Enlightenment was made by books. The intellectual movement which swept across Europe and the Atlantic world from the end of the seventeenth century was fostered, expressed and realised by a sophisticated international market for books. Complex ventures such as Bayle’s Dictionnaire and the ever-expanding number of periodicals indicate that authors and intellectuals were keenly aware of print as a powerful tool. Yet did the book trade reciprocate this enthusiasm? How far did the book market embrace the Enlightenment, and how important were the great intellectual currents of the day to the everyday business of books?

The relationship between the nascent Enlightenment and the organisation of the book trade stands central to this conference. It will seek to expose general developments in European and Atlantic book trade practices from c. 1650-1750, coinciding roughly with the “Early Enlightenment”, in order to refine our understanding of the interplay between intellectual currents and the market for print.

The provisional programme is available here.

Registration is now open here

For further information please contact the organisers, Arthur der Weduwen ( and Ann-Marie Hansen (

The conference has been made possible by the generous sponsorship of the USTC, the School of History of the University of St Andrews and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing.


Big Magazines

A new series of videos has been uploaded to SHARP’s YouTube channel, SHARP Cloud. Click here to watch videos of lectures from the conference ‘Mediating American Modernist Literature: The Case of/for Big Magazines, 1880-1960’, which was held at Aix-Marseille Université on 4-5 October 2018.

MLA 2019 SHARP Panel: “New Perspectives in Book History”

Panel 484, 12 – 1:15 p.m. Sat. 5 Jan., Hyatt Regency Roosevelt I, Chicago, Illinois

Description: Panelists explore new perspectives that are altering the way we do book history, such as global perspectives and digital humanities, ephemeral book objects in twentieth-century book history, MercadoLibre, and the promise of 3-D technologies for book history.


Nora Benedict, Princeton U

Sheila Liming, U of North Dakota

Alison Fraser, U at Buffalo, State U of New York

Kevin O’Sullivan, Texas A&M U, College Station

Amy Chen, U of Iowa

Respondent & Presider

Erin Ann Smith, U of Texas, Dallas


Nora Benedict, “Mercadolibre and the Democratization of Books: A Critical Reading of New Material Affordances and Digital Book History”

The image of the “scholar-collector” is a constant in book history. In fact, many of the best bibliographers and book historians have unearthed crucial findings due to their ability to amass impressive collections of their own, from which they have gleaned novel findings. In our digital era, this reality is even more apparent, especially within the context of Latin America, whose rich history of book production and circulation in the twentieth century remains, for the most part, understudied. That said, the growth of online marketplaces, most notably MercadoLibre, which has virtually no competitive pressure from similar sites such as eBay or Amazon, is revolutionizing the way scholars research and engage with their materials. From never-before-seen publishers’ catalogues and type specimens books, to entire runs of rare paperback editions from the early part of the twentieth-century, MercadoLibre provides access to print materials that, more often than not, exist outside of the scope of most library catalogues – both national and international.

In this paper, I will provide an overview of my current digital project on Victoria Ocampo’s Editorial Sur, a twentieth-century Argentine publishing firm, and the ways in which my work is fundamentally shaped by not only the print materials that this firm produced, but also their (digital) availability on MercadoLibre. In other words, at the heart of my project is a concern for curating collections – along with detailed metadata about their physical features – that exist in both a physical space, and a digital, freely available space, and, in the process, giving voice to often neglected literary traditions and marginalized global publishing histories. Inherent in this dualism of MercadoLibre, and other online marketplaces, is the question of what we consider an archive in the digital era of book history, and how we ethically determine best practices for approaching and using these resources.

Sheila Liming, “The Reprint as Review: NYRB Classics Editions and the Business of Canonical Renovation”

In his influential essay “The Shaping of a Canon, U.S. Fiction 1960-1975” (1987), Richard Ohmann arrives at a stunning conclusion: nearly one fourth of all the books reviewed over a period of fifteen years by the New York Review of Books were published by the same firm, Random House. Ohmann then proceeds to show how the business of reviewing during this era shaped understandings of taste and “value” with regards to new works of literary fiction.

In the early 2000s, the New York Review of Books launched its “NYRB Classics” series, seeking to introduce reprint editions of “lost” literary classics to the contemporary literary marketplace. Where it had previously made its mark as an intellectual powerhouse through book reviewing, the NYRB now engaged in a process of re-reviewing, which involved using increasingly cheap printing technology in order to renovate the previously sacred space of the English language literary canon. In doing so, the NYRB Classics series also began to exert pressure on readers’ notions of the term “classic” which, far from a Kermodian insistence on “perpetuity” and “transcendence,” began to appear associated with neglect, disregard, or abandonment.

In this presentation, I survey the inroads that the NYRB Classics series has made into reshaping the western literary canon. I style that discussion as a kind of update to Ohmann’s findings, which were published more than thirty years ago. In particular, I focus on how the NYRB Classics series has sought to de-westernize the western canon by shining a light on forgotten portions of the world literary marketplace. This situation differs sharply from the one described by Ohmann in his 1987 article and, in my research, I use quantitative methods (including data visualization) to show how the NYRB is, today, actually revising a canon that it helped establish thirty years previously, during the first “wave” of what are now known as the “canon wars.”

Alison Frasier, “Homemade Books:  Ephemeral Book Objects in Twentieth-Century Book History”

This paper argues that twentieth-century book historians should consider ephemeral, homemade objects like scrapbooks, clippings files, and photo-albums, a feminist redetermination of what we consider to be valuable in the study of book history.  More acutely than any other type of writing, scrapbooks and clippings call into question what we traditionally understand to be the labor of making and insist on refocusing our attention to process when we consider the product (or book).  The “homemade” quality of the ephemeral objects analyzed in this paper positions them outside of the traditional publication marketplace and its attendant critics, locating them inside private, domestic spaces of production.  This removal from the literary marketplace allows their makers to create outside of the bounds of a male-dominated publication community, making and circulating works around the dominant publishing economies and exclusive historical narratives, as they claim taste-making roles (like editors and publishers) for themselves.  My paper focuses on the homemade object making of twentieth-century female poets—women who were deeply familiar with publishing and eager to explore its alternatives.  These poets make objects that have process specially coded in them, and I contend that this process of labor and language is tied up with the invisible labor of women.  While the field of book history has embraced the idea of the “book-as-object,” and has productively examined pre-twentieth-century ephemeral print publications, there is a need to examine these issues in light of twentieth-century concerns, as well as their relevance to digital books and their multimodal and user-centered platforms.

Kevin O’Sullivan, “The Bibliographical Press Anew: Leveraging 3D Technologies in Book History Pedagogy”

 In the past decade, the allied technologies of 3D scanning, 3D printing, and 3D modelling have been integral to advances in fields as diverse as biomedical research, aerospace engineering, and zoology. While these tools have only recently gained a prominent foothold in the humanities, the results here have been no less exciting. Given its concern for aspects of material culture, the interdisciplinary field of book history stands to especially benefit from this new trend. Embracing the open access ethos promoted by both the digital humanities and maker communities, the application of these technologies within our field promises to be a global democratizing force, which will change the way future scholars research and teach book history. In this new wave of digitization, libraries and museums have begun to make robust 3D data of their collections materials widely available to scholars through open repositories. As an extension, working facsimiles of once-expensive resources integral to the instruction of historical printing can now be 3D printed for a fraction of the cost. This paper will begin with a survey of these and similar efforts to extend research and instruction possibilities within book history through the application of 3D technologies. It will then turn to a consideration of the important ramifications which this new accessibility to 3D data will have for broadening the scope of who is able to participate in such research and instruction, and how they are able to do so.

Amy Hildreth Chen, “Playing around with book history: Codex Conquest and Mark”

Students learn more when they play—while the value of play often is emphasized only for those early in their education, play has a role in higher education as well. To teach book history across time and space, I developed two card games: Codex Conquest ( and Mark (under development:

Codex Conquest allows students to recognize the most important books of Western civilization by their nation, century, genre, and current monetary value. Along the way, students learn European history and the scenarios that influence the shape of institutional collections. Mark introduces students to the hallmarks of early modern visual culture by allowing them to play a variety of games with a single deck of cards comprised of printer’s marks (devices). As open educational resources (OERs), both games can be downloaded for free from their respective websites and used as is or changed to suit an instructor’s objectives. As supplemental curricula, both games can be played in a single class period.

These games are a new direction in digital humanities. Book history digital humanities often considers the value and qualities of digital editions and facsimiles or focuses attention on annotation or other approaches to scholarly editing. However, this talk offers something new: it proposes book history digital humanities should expand to consider the possibilities offered by game design.

Posted in MLA

Editor sought for SHARP’s Book History journal

Founded in 1991, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) is the leading international organisation for the study of the history of the book, broadly defined. It has around 1000 members from a wide range of disciplinary and institutional backgrounds, including academics and independent scholars, librarians and archivists, publishers and booksellers, and holds regular conferences across the world. In addition, it runs a vibrant email discussion list (SHARP-L), the online SHARP News, and Lingua Franca, the journal of book history in translation.

Book History, the Society’s annual journal, was established in 1998 as ‘a new journal for a new kind of history’, to quote the introduction to the first volume, and its intention was to ‘offer new perspectives and innovative methods’. The founding editors were Jonathan Rose (Drew University, USA) and Ezra Greenspan (Southern Methodist University, USA). In 1999, the journal was selected as the ‘Best New Journal’ by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. It is published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Following the recommendations of SHARP’s Board on Publications Policies and Practices in September 2018, editors will serve a six-year term (with a lifetime maximum of two terms). As a consequence, Jonathan Rose is stepping down, and in recognition of his two decades of service and leadership as Book History editor, he, along with co-founder Ezra Greenspan, who stepped down after sixteen years’ service in 2014, will be credited as honorary ‘Founding Editors’ in future issues of Book History.

The Executive Council of SHARP is consequently seeking a new editor to work alongside the two remaining current editors, Beth le Roux (University of Pretoria) and Greg Barnhisel (Duquesne University) from the beginning of 2019.

Applicants should have an established expertise in the field of the history of the book, broadly defined, and share SHARP’s commitment to expanding its international character, including Book History’s ambition to publish the best scholarship in the field of the history of the book from across the globe. We welcome applicants who are willing to embrace innovative publishing solutions and align our flagship publication with our other digital initiatives, and to consider Book History’s role in scholarly communications in the future.

The Society is keen to solicit applications from both senior and junior scholars. Experience of editing is essential; experience of using an editorial management system would be desirable (Book History uses ScholarOne). Fluency in English is a requirement; fluency in other languages would be an advantage. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have sufficient institutional support (release time and incidental expenses) to take on the role.

We anticipate, once appointed, that the new editor will join Beth le Roux ( and Greg Barnhisel ( at the beginning of 2019. Among the three editors there should be diversity in terms of subject and period expertise, geographic representation, and methodological and disciplinary background. As such, applicants should provide in their application letter an indication of their areas of research expertise.

Editors will be expected to provide an annual report to the SHARP Executive Council via the Director of Publications and Awards.

Application procedure

Applications will be assessed by an Appointments committee, chaired by Claire Squires (University of Stirling, Scotland), SHARP’s Director of Publications and Awards, and which includes senior members of the Society and one of Book History’s current editors as a non-voting member (Ruth Panofsky, Ryerson University, Canada; Susan Pickford, Sorbonne-Université, France; Samantha Rayner, University College London, England; and Greg Barnhisel, Duquesne University, USA).

Applications should consist of an application letter and a curriculum vitae, to be sent by email to Claire Squires ( to arrive no later than 5pm (UK time) on Friday 16 November. The candidate should also ensure that two letters of recommendation, specific to the post, are supplied to Claire Squires by the same deadline.

Informal queries should be directed to Claire Squires. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision early in the new year.

CFP: How Repositories, Publishers, Readers, and Authors Respond to Climate Change — A Panel Sponsored by the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing

How does the specter of climate change—be it, environmental, cultural, economic, social, or any one of numerous other possibilities—inspire authors, affect readers, and shape publishing? How does climate change or its denial impact collecting and preserving rare books and manuscripts?

We are particularly interested in discussions that center on historical contexts from which to understand climate change; how authors of color record the challenges change in the climate poses to their communities; how readers’ interests are piqued (or not) by the myriad circumstances generating climate change; how the publishing industry is responding to climate change in their booklists, publication practices, and promotion strategies; how sustainable are special collections’ and archives’ facilities and practices; and what aspects of climate change are over or under-covered in critical and/or literary discourse.

Proposals should consider the audience for the presentation by incorporating content relevant to attendees from the rare book and manuscript world, such as those in positions relating to archival processing, digitization, instruction, library administration, metadata, outreach, rare book cataloguing, and subject curation.

Please send 250-300 word abstracts to Diane Maher at and Amy Chen at by July 20, 2018. Selected panel participants will be notified shortly thereafter. The panel will then be submitted for consideration to RBMS on August 3, 2018.