Bookstores, Collectors, and the Rare Book Trade in Historical Perspective

Thursday, May 30, 2024, at 2pm ET

Approximately 90 minutes. This virtual program is free, but registration is required. You will be sent an email with a link and instructions on how to join the program upon registration. Closed captioning is available as an option via Zoom’s live transcription.


In this episode of the Virtual Book Talk series, scholars Kristen Doyle Highland, Danielle Magnusson, Laura Cleaver, and Kate Ozment discuss the history of bookstores, women book collectors, and the antiquarian trade in rare books and manuscripts―topics of their recent Elements in Publishing and Book Culture monographs. Published by Cambridge University Press, each installment in the Elements series aims to fill a demand for easily accessible texts for readers interested in the diverse and dynamic fields of publishing and book culture.

Spaces of BooksellingIn The Spaces of Bookselling: Stores, Streets, and Pages, Kristen Doyle Highland contends that bookstores have as many stories to tell as do the books for sale. More than static backgrounds for bookselling, these dynamic spaces both shape individual and collective behaviors and perceptions and are shaped by the values and practices of sellers and buyers. This project focuses primarily on bookselling in the United States from the 19th through the 21st centuries and examines three key bookselling spaces: the store, the street, and the catalogue. Highland considers how the material spaces of bookstores shaped social engagement and cultural values. Along the way, The Spaces of Bookselling calls attention to itinerant and sidewalk booksellers and the ways in which they used the physical, social, and legal space of the street to craft geographies of belonging; furthermore, Highland shows that dealer catalogues are a significant resource for recovering the experiences of booksellers and their customers.

Trade in Rare BooksDanielle Magnusson and Laura Cleaver share their co-authored project, The Trade in Rare Books and Manuscripts between Britain and America c. 1890-1929, which focuses on a period known as the 'Golden Age' of collecting. They focus on collectors, commercial trends, and nationalistic narratives, in particular, the widespread fear that wealthy Americans were draining England of its literary heritage. The authors compare the rhetoric with the reality of the book trade to explore how commercial activity responded to national identity within the period, and equally how commercial players contributed to the formation of major American cultural institutions, including the Morgan Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Huntington Library.

Hroswitha ClubKate Ozment discusses The Hroswitha Club and the Impact of Women Book Collectors, a study of a group of women collectors who met from 1944–2004 in the eastern United States. Despite the fame of individual members like Henrietta Bartlett or Mary Hyde Eccles, there has been no sustained study of the Club's work and legacy. This Element makes the group’s underappreciated history broadly accessible and focuses on how its members shared knowledge and expertise―and provided a space for legitimacy and self-growth during a time when women's access to formal education and academic institutions was limited.

Laura CleaverLaura Cleaver is Senior Lecturer in Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her research concentrates on illuminated manuscripts of the twelfth century and the trade in pre-modern books in the first half of the twentieth century.

Kristen Doyle HighlandKristen Highland is Assistant Professor and Interim Head of the Department of English at American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Her research focuses broadly on the materiality of book cultures, with specific focuses on bookselling in American history and contemporary digital environments for reading and writing. Her work has appeared in Book History, Knygotyra, Higher Education Pedagogies, and the Oxford History of Popular Print Culture (2019). Highland was a 2013-14 Botein fellow at AAS.

Danielle Magnusson is a Postdoctoral Researcher as part of the CULTIVATE MSS project at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. She researches the history of book collecting and the early 20th century American antiquarian trade in English literature. She has an academic background in medieval literature, drama, and book history.

Kate OzmentKate Ozment is Associate Professor of English at Cal Poly Pomona who specializes in early modern British literature (especially after the Restoration) with an emphasis on gender, race, sexuality, and colonialism. She is the co-editor of the Women in Book History Bibliography and contributes to the Women’s Print History Project. She has published in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Huntington Library Quarterly, Early Modern Women, and Digital Humanities Quarterly.

Program in the History of the Book  in American Culture

Quick Links

Catalog | Login | Digital A-Z


Monday: 9-5
Tuesday: 10-5
Wednesday: 9-5
Thursday: 9-5
Friday: 9-5

Keep in Touch

Link to AAS Facebook Link to AAS TwitterLink to AAS BlogLink to AAS Instagram   Link to AAS YouTube