History is what survives. One man's dustbin is another's potential archive. A narrow partition divides the hoarder from the scholar. With this remarkable book, Andrew Pettegree immediately shows gratitude to scattered libraries which have somehow kept scarce books, and pamphlets, absent from earlier surveys of printed books. Paradoxically enough, only with online catalogues have so many near-fugitive works become more apparent. Pettegree not only pursues Continental haunts but "the Library at Innerpeffay, tucked away up a farm track in rural Perthshire".
He argues in The Book in the Renaissance that the early printed book market turns out not to have been at all like what scholars previously imagined. Printers, pressed by the tricky economics of the new technology, relied not on the famous new Bibles but rather on cheap pamphlets and light literature to stay afloat. News turned out to be a profitable area for these early publishers. Scholars, meanwhile, worried that the new technology would not so much advance civilization as degrade it, flooding the market with cheap, error-ridden classics and a prodigious quantity of non-scholarly rubbish.