Society for History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing Conference Recap
Conversing with John Pollock, Public Services Specialist at the University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, who works with David McKnight, mentioned that this is a time of great change for History of the Book scholars, libraries, and universities like Penn. "Online reading takes on more meaning when you can actually see the physical materials that are the basis of those online texts. More teaching can happen when these rare books and manuscripts can be viewed, and, in fact, how these texts were written, published, and disseminated during their own time affects how we perceive them today." I had not ever thought about that.
What did I learn? More than I can possibly impart, but first, that the book is alive and well throughout the globe, and that now we have dozens of older and newer scholars studying how we read, what we read, and why. We are discovering how reading books and texts changes brains, if not lives. And we have a clearer picture of how writing, reading, and publishing affect civilization, all civilizations. Will books in material form disappear in the digital age; absolutely not, according to these scholars. Maybe the History of the Book research will inspire all of us to publish texts that will be handled with white gloves, one hundred years from now! I hope so.
Roy M Carlisle is the Acquisitions Director at The Independent Institute and a member of the Board of Directors of the Independent Book Publishers Association. Roy wishes to thank his friends, Kim, Lorie, Brian and Soozung for making this trip possible.