The sources of modern book historiography: Kazimierz Piekarski and his Books in 15th and 16th century Poland
Book history as a research specialty began to develop in Europe at least as early as the 17th century, but it was not until the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries that it gradually acquired, and only in some countries, the status of a relatively autonomous discipline. The problems it tackled, the concepts and methods it used came mainly from the history of printing, bibliography and history of literature. An important role in the development of book historiography in Poland was played by Kazimierz Piekarski with his work on bibliography, cataloguing and book studies, and, especially, his 1930 programme publication The Book in 15th and 16th century Poland (published in 1932). Piekarski deserves the credit for establishing a precise scope of printed book studies and for drawing attention to the printer and his production as a research subject specific to book history. In addition, a full study of early printed books should include the issue of circulation (intermediaries) and consumption of books. In many cases Kazimierz Piekarski’s proposals were ahead of foreign concepts and programmes of research into the history of books, research that today is dominated – globally – by two schools: French and Anglo-American. Piekarski’s work, virtually unknown outside Poland, should be given its deservedly important place in international historiography.