The Bookshop of the World: lezing en boekpresentatie

On Tuesday March 19th, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen will present their new book ‘The Bookshop of the World’ (Yale UP) during the ACSGA-colloquium, with drinks afterwards.

Date, time and location: 19 March 2019, 15.30-17.00, University Library UvA (Singel 425, Amsterdam)

The book trade played a powerful role in every part of the life of the Dutch Republic: as an instrument of government, a tool of devotion, and as a fundamental building block of the education system. It helped divert citizens during their precious leisure hours and it helped prepare them for a life in trade.  It underpinned the professional endeavours of lawyers, doctors and ministers of the church. It opened citizens’ eyes to the world beyond their bustling towns. When the Dutch sailed overseas, they took their books with them. When they sailed back, if they sailed back, books retailed their adventures, proclaimed their triumphs and helped disseminate their scientific discoveries.  And of course, the book kept thousands of workmen, traders and entrepreneurs in gainful employment, importing and exporting, writing, printing, binding and trading books.

Without the book trade, the miracle of the Dutch Republic is scarcely conceivable; and without the window books provide into the soul of this society, we would hardly be able to fathom this most remarkable contribution to European civilisation. The Bookshop of the World is an attempt to capture this teeming, literate, complex society through the evidence of its printed works.  Today we will set out some of the research approaches we have adopted, and explain how that has directed us to new interpretative strategies and fresh conclusions.  In the process we will share with you some of the discoveries that have most excited us, along with a few of vibrant personalities that kept us entertained along the way.


Description of the book

The Dutch Golden Age has long been seen as the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, whose paintings captured the public imagination and came to represent the marvel that was the Dutch Republic. Yet there is another, largely overlooked, marvel in the Dutch world of the seventeenth century: books. In this fascinating account, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen show how the Dutch produced many more books than pictures, and bought and owned more books per capita than any other part of Europe. Key innovations in marketing, book auctions and newspaper advertising brought stability to a market where elsewhere publishers faced bankruptcy, and created a population uniquely well-informed and politically engaged. This book tells for the first time the remarkable story of the Dutch conquest of the European book world and shows the true extent to which this pious, prosperous, quarrelsome and generous people were shaped by what they read.


Andrew Pettegree is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Reformation history and the history of communication including Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Book in the Renaissance (Yale University Press, 2010), The Invention of News (Yale University Press, 2014) and Brand Luther: 1517, Print and the Making of the Reformation (Penguin, 2015). The Bookshop of the World will be followed by two further books co-authored with Arthur der Weduwen: a study of newspaper advertising in the Dutch Golden Age and The Library: A Fragile History, contracted to Profile for 2021.

Arthur der Weduwen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews and the author of the prize-winning Dutch and Flemish Newspapers of the Seventeenth Century (2 vols., Brill, 2017). His PhD (2018) is a study of government communication in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. He is a long-term associate of the Universal Short Title Catalogue project. The Bookshop of the World will be followed by two further books co-authored with Andrew Pettegree: a study of newspaper advertising in the Dutch Golden Age and The Library: A Fragile History, contracted to Profile for 2021.


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