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As SHARP president Shef Rogers states in his welcome letter, SHARP News has historically been a stimulating resource for book history reviews, updates, and bibliographies. We want to ensure this website continues and expands this tradition by becoming a thriving space for community and scholarly research. Toward that goal, we’re thrilled to announce that we have just hired a new team of editors to revitalize and bring forth new voices and ideas to our community. Please subscribe to receive our updates!

On Decolonising Book History

Discussions on how to decolonise academia are far from new. As scholars, we are keenly aware that the current privileged knowledge structures have co-built the world we live in with all its shortcomings. Besides the wider effects of these discourses and narratives, the way in which we have studied book history has also been affected. This was the larger topic that gave way to the panel on decolonising book history that took place during SHARP in Focus on 15 June 2020 organised by Melanie Ramdarshan Bold and Danielle Fuller.

featured image for Digital Literary Sphere showing a laptop with book pages coming off the screen

Simone Murray, The Digital Literary Sphere: Reading, Writing, and Selling Books in the Internet Era

Simone Murray’s The Digital Literary Sphere has a set of ambitious and interrelated objectives. The book proposes to understand digital writing as the product of an industry that is also becoming digital, touching on the ways that the digital sphere creates its own conceptualizations of authorship, marketing, book reviewing and reading. The Digital Literary Sphere additionally features a rationale for thinking of “the digital’s significance for literary culture” (1) via some of the methods and concerns of book history, media studies, and a specific aspect of electronic literary studies. Along the way, Murray considers, and for the most part discards, other ways of understanding digital writing, including literary studies more generally, the Digital Humanities, cultural studies, approaches making use of Bourdieu’s conception of the literary field, and literary sociology.

Cover of the book Radiant with Color and Art

Lauren B. Hewes and Kayla Haveles Hopper, eds., Radiant with Color & Art: McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920

“What’s the use of an exhibition catalog,” Alice might well have said to herself, “if it doesn’t have beautiful pictures and brilliant essays?” This catalog of the McLoughlin Brothers’ more than sixty years of publishing children’s books, games, and toys surely would have delighted little Alice. The first third of the book consists of three well-written informative essays and the last two thirds make up the illustrated exhibition catalog itself. The items were drawn primarily from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society with help from private collectors Linda F. and Julian L. Lapides, Richard Cheek, and the George M. Fox Collection at the San Francisco Public Library.

Cover for Limited Editions Club book

Carol Porter Grossman, The History of the Limited Editions Club

Every publisher deserves a historian like Carol Porter Grossman. This absorbing book recounts the remarkable story of the Limited Editions Club (LEC) and its offshoots, as well as that of the Club’s indefatigable and imaginative founder, George Macy, and those who kept the LEC going after his untimely death in 1956. Drawing on extensive archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Columbia University, the Newberry Library, and the Grolier Club, as well as private archives and several important oral histories, Grossman is able to reconstruct in great and fascinating detail the eight decades of fine book production by the LEC.

Cover page of The Earliest Dutch Imposition Manual: A Facsimile of the Manuscript “Overslag-Boek” by Joannes Josephus Balthazar Vanderstraelen

Frans A. Janssen, ed., The Earliest Dutch Imposition Manual: A Facsimile of the Manuscript “Overslag-Boek” by Joannes Josephus Balthazar Vanderstraelen

Apprentice typographers learned the trade on the job; instruction manuals were wasted on them. That such books were made all the same is owing to “the relative small number of the most educated and ambitious master printers and overseers” (Janssen, ed. Wardenaar, 11). One such man was Joannes Josephus Balthazar Vanderstraelen from Antwerp who, in 1784–5, wrote an instruction manual explaining how to place type for different formats into the forme in the correct manner.

Image of Seated man taking dictation from BL Royal 10 E IV, f. 307

Call for Submissions: SHARP in the Classroom

SHARP News is developing a new division for writing about book history pedagogy. SHARP in the Classroom will provide tools for teaching book history as well as reflections on pedagogical practices and reviews of resources. It is our intent that this body of work will help veterans of and newcomers to book history teach across our field of knowledge. See this page for our call for submissions and to add your name to our list of reviewers.