Analyzing Printing Trends in Late Imperial China Using Large Bibliometric Datasets


Online library catalog records of Chinese texts written during the late imperial period contain a wealth of traditional bibliographic information. Nearly 35,000 records on texts written from 1550 to 1799, available through WorldCat, describe these works in minute detail: the size of a page's text frame, the number of characters per page, print quality, genre, and so on. Aggregating this bibliographic information allows for a rapid and statistically rigorous approach to quantitative print history. Diachronic analysis of the size of the text frame of the late imperial texts represented by these records reveals a rapid increase in the production of very small format texts during the latter part of the eighteenth century. When integrated with information on genre, this analysis confirms Robert Hegel's hypothesis that novels were printed in ever smaller formats during the Qing dynasty and traces the origin of this trend to the 1750s.


各種網上圖書館目錄包含關於明清時期古籍善本的目錄學資料。 WorldCat 保 存了三萬五千條從 1550 至 1799 年間所刊書籍的記錄。這些記錄包括版框面積、風格 等詳細的信息。歷時性分析表明版框很小的書籍的數量在十八世紀末急劇增加,也 確證何谷理關於清朝的小說印本縮小的假說。