Beginning Bibliography: Five Favourite Texts

BOOK LOVER

Beginning Bibliography begins on Monday. We don’t set any reading that can’t be accessed for free, so this month’s Beginnings article highlights my top five book purchases in the field.

1. Bowers for the Detail. Love it or loathe it, you cannot ignore Bowers’s tome, Principles of Bibliographical Description (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1949). You would imagine bibliographers to be obsessed with detail, and Bowers was certainly that. I first read this book in 1990 and in thirty years, I’ve not found a single challenge in bibliographic description for which I have not been able to find an answer within it. If only he had been able to write in an engaging, encouraging style, I’d go so far as to say we would need no other book on how to describe a printed book. Alas! He conveys all of the detail but none of the love, and I have met some very distinguished bibliographers who have confided to me they have never been able to read his Principles from cover to cover, only dip in and out of it as and when required. Copies are available from Betterworld Books and second-hand from Abe and Abe UK.

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What Is Bibliography?

Open for Bookings: Beginning Bibliography

Want to learn the core techniques of bibliographic research? Getting into book collecting and keen to know exactly which impression of which edition of a book you’ve just purchased? Moving from modern cataloguing to working with early materials and need to get on top of format and collational formulae?

We’ve got a course for you. Beginning Bibliography has just opened for booking. 20-25 hours of learning at your own pace, with presentations, readings and activities including creating quasi-facsimiles (title page transcriptions), collation (working out the format of the book and how its pages were ordered and bound), and some paper-folding excises.

The introductory presentation is free to watch in order to help you make up your mind. Here’s the curriculum:

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