This work introduces the history of the book in China in the late imperial period from 1000 to 1800. He assumes little knowledge of Chinese history or culture and compares the Chinese experience with books with that of other civilizations, particularly the European. Yet he deals with a wide range of issues in the history of the book in China and presents novel analyses of the changes in Chinese woodblock bookmaking over these centuries. He presents a new view of when the printed book replaced the manuscript and what drove that substitution. He explores the distribution and marketing structure of books, and writes fascinatingly on the history of book collecting and about access to private and government book collections. In drawing on a great deal of Chinese, Japanese, and Western research this book provides a broad account of the way Chinese books were printed, distributed, and consumed by literati and scholars, mainly in the lower Yangzi delta, the cultural center of China during these centuries. It introduces interesting personalities, ranging from wily book collectors to an indigent shoe-repairman collector.
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