The Book-Makers: A History of the Book in 18 Remarkable Lives (Hardback)
  • The Book-Makers: A History of the Book in 18 Remarkable Lives (Hardback)
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The Book-Makers: A History of the Book in 18 Remarkable Lives (Hardback)

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Hardback 400 Pages
Published: 18/04/2024
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Waterstones Says

From printers and binders to typographers and librarians, Smyth's endlessly fascinating volume recounts the story of the book through eighteen visionary and highly influential figures.

This is an extraordinary story of skill, craft, mess, cunning, triumph, improvisation, and error. Of printers and binders, publishers and artists, paper-makers and library founders.

Some we know. We meet jobbing printer (and United States Founding Father) Benjamin Franklin, and watch Thomas Cobden-Sanderson conjure books that flicker between the 20th and 15th centuries. Others we’ve forgotten. We don't recall Sarah Eaves, wife of John Baskerville, and her crucial contribution to the history of type. Nor Charles Edward Mudie, populariser of the circulating library – and the most influential figure in publishing before Jeff Bezos. Nor William Wildgoose, who meticulously bound Shakespeare’s First Folio, then disappeared.

The Book-Makers puts people back into the story of the book. It takes us inside the print-shop as the deadline looms and the adrenaline flows – from the Fleet Street of 1492 to present-day New York. It’s a tale of contingencies and quirks, of successes and failures, of routes forward and paths not taken. This is a history of book-making that leaves ink on your fingers, and shows why the printed book will continue to flourish.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781847926296
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 640 g
Dimensions: 238 x 162 x 40 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

This really is the loveliest of books and you will never take for granted reading a physical copy again - i

Agile storytelling and chatty erudition evoke not just the physicality of the book but also its innate humanity - Observer

A passionate paean to the book, in all its forms, as an object ... So interesting, so thought-provoking - Literary Review

The Book-Makers breathes bibliophilia. It recalls Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘Unpacking My Library’. Like Benjamin, Smyth unpacks his contents lovingly … I cannot recommend it highly enough - Spectator

Emphasising the human aspect in all its chaotic truth, The Book-Makers is far from your standard Gutenberg-to-Google history of the book… [Smyth] is almost uniquely well-qualified to convey what his 18 makers felt under their fingertips, and why it mattered to them so much. It is, in the truest sense, an enthusiast’s book; one that deserves to find enthusiasts of its own - Telegraph

Vivid and often-surprising … The charm of The Book-Makers comes from its interest in wear and tear, blunders and errata, the spontaneous and the scrappy, the residual and the recycled – and in edges, of pages and bindings, society and taste - Times Literary Supplement

Refreshing ... Smyth breathes both books-as-objects and their creators back into life - Financial Times

Bound to be brilliant ... There's no doubting the breadth of [Smyth's] knowledge and love of the business - Guardian

Fun and informative ... The Book-Makers gives you a lively sense of the way in which books have been made and unmade, crafted, handled and spliced down the centuries - Prospect

Fierce scholarship and fascinating print nerdery come together here as he illuminates brilliantly a cast of printers, binders, artists, papermakers and library founders. There is a wonderful immediacy to Adam Smyth's narrative - Country Life

[An] exuberant celebration of the printed book … [with] a compelling human angle … Smyth is an engaging narrator, and his history is teeming with life, drama and a cast of vividly drawn pioneers - Homes & Antiques

Amazing. From typeface to papermaking to a whole new-to-me democratic world of book interaction like commonplacing and zines, this book is a soul-expanding celebration of the human spirit - Martin Latham, author of The Bookseller's Tale

Fascinating ... Should teach even serious book-nerds a heap of forgotten and precious information about the making of books. Adam Smyth’s lively prose and human touch puts to rest the idea that book-talk has to be dry and dull. On the contrary! The development of printing, papermaking, and book distribution, for example, are told in chapters as full of surprises as any novel - David Bellos, author of The Novel of the Century

A brilliant time-machine of a book. Each chapter feels like a party packed with old friends and new, and Smyth plays the gregarious host with aplomb - Joseph Hone, author of The Book Forger

I relished Adam Smyth's The Book-Makers: bursting with fascinating details and vividly-drawn characters, its stories will delight any book lover, and Smyth delivers them with an erudite brio - Roland Allen, author of The Notebook

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