‘All history’, argues Roger Chartier, whether economic, social or religious – requires the study of systems of representation and the acts the systems generate. This is what makes it cultural history.’ 1 Since the invention of printing in the mid-fifteenth century the production, distribution and consumption of printed matter have been the principal means through which this process of representation has taken place in European society. Chartier is one of a group of distinguished scholars whose work has transformed the previously somewhat isolated field of book history and shifted the history of printing and publishing into the centre of historical concern. It opens up new areas of reflection whose pertinence extends far beyond the France of the Ancien Régime, which has been the focus of Chartier’s own research. 2