Welcome to Early Printed Books

Early Printed Books focuses on what was unique about books printed during the hand-press period—those features particular to works printed between 1450, when the printing press began to be developed, and 1800, when the machine press began to take its place. On this site you’ll find images showing details like title pages, illustrations, signature marks, type faces, cancel slips, and more. And if you’re looking for exercises to use in teaching with old books, or resources for further studying them, those tools are here for you, too.

n.b.This is the beta version of the site: not all of the content or features are available yet and some of the content is only barely roughed out still. I put it up so I could start gathering feedback, but it’d be nice if you’d refrain from publicizing the site until it’s ready to  go! If you wanted to share thoughts with me about this, please get in touch at wynken.blog@gmail.com [don’t worry: that’s one of the things that will get better before launch]

created by Sarah Werner

Sarah Werner is the author of Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide (Wiley, 2018). She is a book historian and digital media scholar based in Washington, DC, who has taught undergraduates about books and early modern culture at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has given invited talks at major conferences and lecture series on open access libraries, the nature of digital facsimiles, as well as on a wide range of additional subjects.

Studying Early Printed Books 1450-1800: A Practical Guide

Designed to introduce students, researchers, and librarians to the first centuries of printing, Sarah Werner’s Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide is a clear and accessible introduction to working with books made in the first centuries of the printing press.

The first half of the guide describes how books were made in the hand-press period, from making blank sheets of paper through to printed and gathered sheets ready to be sold. The second half guides readers through how to understand and use such books, whether they are encountering them in a library or looking at them on a computer screen.

Features described on this website are described in further detail in Werner’s guide, and users of one resource will find the other a helpful companion to better understanding how to work with early books.

Studying Early Printed Books will be out from Wiley Blackwell in spring 2018.