Cover image for Beauty and the book : fine editions and cultural distinction in America
Title:
Beauty and the book : fine editions and cultural distinction in America
Author:
Benton, Megan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xii, 323 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780300082135
Format :
Book

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Z479 .B475 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

In post-World War I America, teeming as it was with magazines, newspapers, radio broadcasts and movies, many feared that the survival of traditional, serious books was in peril. This concern led to a publishing boom in fine editions; books valued primarily for their beauty, craftsmanship, extravagance, status, or scarcity. Beauty and the Book is a lively cultural history of the explosion in demand for these deluxe books during the 1920s and 1930s. Megan L. Benton argues that the clamour to own fine books reflected the anxieties and desires of those who mourned the rise of a modern mass culture. For them, such volumes not only affirmed a preindustrial ideal but also imparted social distinction and cultural superiority. Benton combines new archival research with a close examination of three hundred fine editions of the period. In theory, fine bookmakers were devoted to beauty and quality and were unwilling to compromise with machinery, popular taste, or concern for profit. But such ideal standards were nearly impossible to maintain. Paradoxically, fine publishers' ostensible indifference to commercial considerations was one of their most prized and lucrative products for sale. This b