Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876–1937
384pp. January 2005
Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876–1937
Author: Reed, Christopher A.;
Winner, 2003–2005 International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) 4 Book Prize (Humanities category)

In the mid-1910s, what historians call the "Golden Age of Chinese Capitalism" began, accompanied by a technological transformation that included the drastic expansion of China’s "Gutenberg revolution." Gutenberg in Shanghai is a brilliant examination of this process. It finds the origins of that revolution in the country’s printing industries of the late imperial period and analyzes their subsequent development in the Republican era.

Under diverse social, political, and economic influences, this technological and cultural revolution saw woodblock printing replaced with Western mechanical processes. This book, which relies on documents previously unavailable to both Western and Chinese researchers, demonstrates how Western technology and evolving traditional values resulted in the birth of a unique form of print capitalism whose influence on Chinese culture was far-reaching and irreversible. Its conclusion contests scholarly arguments that view China’s technological development as slowed by culture, or that interpret Chinese modernity as mere cultural continuity.

A vital reevaluation of Chinese modernity, Gutenberg in Shanghai will appeal to scholars of Chinese history. Likewise, it will be enthusiastically received by specialists in cultural studies, political science, sociology, the history of the book, and the anthropology of science and technology.


For sale in the U.S. only

Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute

Honorable Mention, 2005 DeLong Book Prize, Society for the History of Authorship, Readership, and Publishing (SHARP)

"The importance of this book goes well beyond the fact that it is the first book in a Western language to describe the multifaceted development of ‘modern’ printing in China. The comprehensive and convincing integration of varying approaches of the history of the book and print culture with technological, social, commercial, intellectual and business history alone make this innovative book satisfying." —SHARP News (15:2–3)

"This is a generous, learned book. Its five lavishly illustrated chapters outline the transfer of modern print technologies from Europe and Japan to China’s treaty port sector and chart the history of the Gutenberg revolution’s sinicization and institutionalization in late Qing and Republican cities." —China Review International (14:1, spring 2007)

Author: Reed, Christopher A.;
Christopher A. Reed is a member of the History Department at Ohio State University.