In It for the Money: The Birth of Commercial Book Production

In It for the Money: The Birth of Commercial Book Production

Lecture by Erik Kwakkel

Given at the University of Alberta, on October 24, 2012

Most books we read are purchased in bookstores, virtual or not. While mankind has read books in one form of another from Antiquity, it was not until around 1200, in the age of the handwritten book, that readers would purchase their reads the way we do today — from a shop where the objects were sold for a profit. This paper focuses on the thirteenth century, when the commercial book was born, developed, and perfected into our modern book standard. It introduces the main players of this world of commerce — parchment makers, paid scribes, illuminators, shopkeepers — and discusses why these traditionally separate professions blended into a closely knit community that stands at the cradle of our bookish world today.

You can follow Erik Kwakkel on Twitter at @erik_kwakkel

See also These Books are Tall and not Wide Enough’: Anomalous Page Dimensions in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries

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