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The Book-Makers: A History of the Book in 18 Remarkable Lives

by Adam Smyth

Hardback (unsigned) £25
Published 18th April 2024
Signed first edition £25
First edition, first printing, signed by the author
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in Bath

in Edinburgh

in Ely

in St Andrews


A celebration of the printed book, told through the lives of 18 people who took it in radical new directions.

‘This really is the loveliest of books’ I

‘I cannot recommend it highly enough’ SPECTATOR

This is an extraordinary story of skill, craft, mess, cunning, triumph, improvisation, and error. Of printers and binders, publishers and artists, paper-makers and library founders.

Some we know. We meet jobbing printer (and United States Founding Father) Benjamin Franklin, and watch Thomas Cobden-Sanderson conjure books that flicker between the 20<sup>th</sup> and 15<sup>th</sup> centuries. Others we’ve forgotten. We don’t recall Sarah Eaves, wife of John Baskerville, and her crucial contribution to the history of type. Nor Charles Edward Mudie, populariser of the circulating library – and the most influential figure in publishing before Jeff Bezos. Nor William Wildgoose, who meticulously bound Shakespeare’s First Folio, then disappeared.

The Book-Makers puts people back into the story of the book. It takes us inside the print-shop as the deadline looms and the adrenaline flows – from the Fleet Street of 1492 to present-day New York. It’s a tale of contingencies and quirks, of successes and failures, of routes forward and paths not taken. This is a history of book-making that leaves ink on your fingers, and shows why the printed book will continue to flourish.

‘Amazing. This book is a soul-expanding celebration of the human spirit’ MARTIN LATHAM, author of The Bookseller’s Tale

‘A brilliant time machine of a book’ JOSEPH HONE, author of The Book Forger


The Book-Makers: A History of the Book in 18 Remarkable Lives
by Adam Smyth


Vintage Publishing


Publication date
April 18, 2024

24.2cm x 16.3cm x 3.5cm