Originally published in 2003, this book ranges over private and public reading, and over a variety of religious, social, and scientific communities to locate acts of reading in specific historical moments from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. It also charts the changes in reading habits that reflect broader social and political shifts during the period. A team of expert contributors cover topics including the processes of book production and distribution, audiences and markets, the material text, the relation of print to performance, and the politics of acts of reception. In addition, the volume emphasises the independence of early modern readers and their role in making meaning in an age in which increased literacy equaled social enfranchisement and interpretation was power. Meaning was not simply an authorial act but the work of many hands and processes, from editing, printing, and proofing, to reproducing, distributing, and finally reading.
Review of the hardback: 'The essays that make up the collection are uniformly of a high standard. This is a stimulating and authoritative contribution to our understanding of the many ways readers have sought authority through, and over, their texts.' SHARP News
Review of the hardback: 'Modern readers can expect to receive pleasure rather than pain from this handsome, engaging and wide-ranging  volume ... for early modernist scholars who are serious about attending to early modern readers, this volume will serve as an indispensable guide.' History
Review of the hardback: 'This book is provocative and informative.' Sixteenth Century Journal
"Many challenging claims for reading as an agent of change are made in this valuable collection." H-ALBION
"A new volume of essays edited by those virtuosi of the form Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker is bound to be a treat and indeed this collection does not disappoint." H-Net