feather on the history of the book

John Feather, “The Book in History and the History of the Book“:

The history of the book is built up, like all social history, from bricks, each complete in itself, but each fulfilling its true role only when it is linked with others. If it is indeed true that the book, and the written or printed word it contains, is central to our history, then it follows that it is also central to the study and writing of history. Our understanding of the past, which is the ultimate objective of all history, will be severely impaired if we do not recognize this crucial fact … The perimiters of book history are defined by the perimeters of the printed word itself and if we accept, as surely we must, that we live in a culture whose development has been based on the transmission and understanding of words, then the history of the book is as fundamental to history as is the book itself to the culture whose history we seek to learn.

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