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History of the Book in Canada
Volume Two: 1840 - 1918

Lamonde, Yvan, Fleming, Patricia Lockhart, Black, Fiona. A.
Publisher:  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  2005  
Pages:  659pp   Price:  $85.00   ISBN:  0-8020-8012-X
Library of Congress Number:  Z206.H58 2004   Dewey:  002'.0971

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This is the second of three volumes dealing with the history of publishing in Canada. Volume One covered the period before 1840, and was indeed concerned more with "the book"; Volume Two goes to the end of the First World War and embraces more non-traditional forms such as the periodical press (the post office had improved) and catalogues. Volume Three, due out in a few more years, will see "the book" into the 21st century. This is, of course, a pioneering work which examines the role of print in the political, religious, intellectual, and cultural life of the colonies, the Canadian experience, and then the maturing nation. The general editors are all librarians and/or historians. Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal is simultaneously publishing French-language editions of the books.

Specific chapters are written by contributors: there are 87 signed chapters covering publishing and culture, the printing trades, authors and writers, distribution networks, all types of libraries, periodicals and newspapers, plus social essays on politics and print, religion and print, fiction and print. And even smaller nuggets such as Liz Driver's essay on cookbooks, Balfour Halevy's essay on law books, Bruce Kidd on sports, and Michael Peterman's essay on aspects of literary authorship. The book is complemented by many illustrations, end notes, an extensive bibliography of sources cited, notes about the contributors, and, of course, the huge index.

For more details about the project History of the Book in Canada, do check out the Web site www.hbic.library.utoronto.ca.

* Audience or interest level: librarians and book scholars, literary historians.

* Some interesting facts: The first press west of Ontario marks the transitional year of 1840. Imported print assumed a larger magnitude with the spreading population of the country and the efficiency of delivery.

* What I don't like about this resource (its shortcomings): well, why is it called "history of the book"? It is actually about all aspects of printing. Unfortunately, the book is very heavy (physically) - this is not bedtime reading to prop up on your lap since it will crush you. And the writing style is a bit uneven, given that there are a lot of contributors writing entries longer than the usual "companion" entries.

* What I do like about this resource (its positives): there are some useful appendices of materials for Quebec and for the Prairies.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 87

[Review by Dean Tudor]

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