Andie Silva, The Brand of Print: Marketing Paratexts in the Early English Book Trade.

*Disclaimer: the author of the book is the current editor of SHARP News, however she did not procure nor edit this review in any way.*

In a year where bookcase credibility has become a crucial part of academic life, with towers of texts teetering into every Zoom call, Andie Silva’s insistence on the book as cultural commodity in this thought-provoking and innovative monograph is particularly resonant. From the introduction, the originality of Silva’s work becomes apparent as she productively combines contemporary marketing theory and book history. Sidestepping the focus upon the author found in Erne and Kastan, Silva places our attention firmly on “print agents” – a capacious term which here includes printers, publishers, editors, translators, stationers, and book sellers. By exploring the actions of these print agents through marketing theory, this wide-ranging, perceptive book draws together both market choices and cultural value, convincingly and cogently linking the commercial and rhetorical characteristics of the early modern marketplace of books and ideas. Silva challenges the distinctions that often stymie early modern book history: between reading for profit and reading for pleasure, literary and non-literary texts, canonical woks and printed ephemera, manuscript and print. 

Gavin Edwards. The Case of the Initial Letter: Charles Dickens and the Politics of the Dual Alphabet.

a christmas carol? How does the change in capitalization impact our reading of the text? Gavin Edwards’s The Case of the Initial Letter: Charles Dickens and the Politics of the Dual Alphabet is a thorough consideration of the use and abuse of the initial letter. The initial letter is the first letter of a word. It is not necessarily a drop cap or an ornamental letter that starts a chapter with embellishment. The upper-case initial letter is most often quieter than that – a C instead of a c – but, as we learn, it conveys dignity and carries political weight. 

John Boardley. Typographic Firsts: Adventures in Early Printing

For centuries, humans have been surrounded by printed material. It is easy to ignore that certain typographic elements we take for granted now were, at some point, a novelty. John Boardley’s Typographic Firsts, published by the Bodleian Library, creates awareness for these developments that (mainly) started in the fifteenth century and still shape our books (even the digital ones) in the twenty-first century.

Michelle Levy et al., The Women’s Print History Project

The Women’s Print History Project is a database that collects in one place information about British women’s writing, editing, publishing, printing, bookselling, and other contributions to the print trade in the “long eighteenth century” (in this case, 1750-1830). Built by a team of more than twenty people under the leadership of Michelle Levy and Kandice Sharren and funded by an SSHRC Insight Grant and Simon Fraser University, the database pulls together extensive bibliographical information from print, online, and developing sources. It is thus a much-needed centralized search for a territory that has been enriched in recent years by specialized projects covering different aspects of this historical archive.

Introducing Early Editions: Conversations with Emerging Researchers

In the absence of in-person conferences and networking opportunities due to COVID-19, SHARP News is pleased to present a new feature, Early Editions: Conversations with Emerging Researchers. Early Editions pairs an emerging researcher with an established SHARPist with similar interests and flips the script: through informal dialogue, the established scholar introduces the work and interests of the early-career researcher to the broader SHARP community. Our first conversation is between Joe Saunders, PhD student at the University of York, and Ian Gadd, Professor in English Literature at Bath Spa University.