While books typically dominate in the field of print and publishing history, what happens when we redirect our attention towards ephemeral texts? Employing a widely dispersed material source base, this article focuses on Chinese gazettes: daily publications that recorded official communications and state activities at the provincial and imperial levels during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Gazettes, rarely studied under the auspices of book history and existing on the periphery of xylographic book publishing, offer important revelations about the geography, economics, and procedures of print and scribal publishing in late imperial China. Their producers employed a diverse range of rarely recognized techniques including movable typography, wax stereotype printing, slat printing, and other adaptations. Like other non-book ephemera, publishing practices for gazettes were determined locally in vernacular contexts, and not dictated by the imperial state. Attention to ephemeral texts brings less recognized print techniques to the fore, challenging assumptions previously formed from the perspectives of book collecting and bibliographical studies. As digitization and cataloguing efforts reveal non-book texts preserved in private, library, and archival collections, continued attention to the material record is needed.
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© 2023 The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Library and Information Sciences