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A Social History of the Chinese BookBooks and Literati Culture in Late Imperial China$
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Joseph P. McDermott

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9789622097810

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622097810.001.0001

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The Ascendance of the Imprint in China

The Ascendance of the Imprint in China

(p.43) 2 The Ascendance of the Imprint in China
A Social History of the Chinese Book

Joseph P. McDermott

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter shows the general validity and significance of Inoue Susumu's and Katsuyama Minoru's statistical claims, but only after stressing the considerable coincidence of the overlap of these figures with the actual general trends. The use of the number of woodblock imprint titles to indicate book output tends to underestimate the scale of production levels and the extent of readership for Chinese books. The evidence presented indicates that large private libraries were few up to the early sixteenth century; that they usually held between 10,000 and 20,000 juan and seldom more than 30,000 juan until the latter half of the sixteenth century; that normal scholar-official collections were considerably smaller; that even high officials in the capital of Hangzhou had trouble acquiring copies; that the situation improved then in Hangzhou but not noticeably in large, nearby cities like Ningbo; and, that a shortage of books was reported in all these places from the fourteenth up to the early sixteenth centuries. The chapter also emphasizes that the ascendance of the imprint in the sixteenth century did not end the influence or the use of manuscripts in late imperial China.

Keywords:   imperial China, Chinese imprint, Inoue Susumu, Katsuyama Minoru, Chinese books, woodblock imprint, Hangzhou, juan

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