In a brief historic moment, printing presses, publishing ventures, a periodical press, circulation networks, and a mass readership came into being all at once in the Middle East, where none had previously existed, with ramifications in every sphere of the community's life. Among other outcomes, this significant change facilitated the cultural and literary movement known as the Arab 'nahda' ('awakening'). Ayalon's book offers both students and scholars a critical inquiry into the formative phase of that shift in Arab societies. This comprehensive analysis explores the advent of printing and publishing; the formation of mass readership; and the creation of distribution channels, the vital and often overlooked nexus linking the former two processes. It considers questions of cultural and religious tradition, social norms and relations, and concepts of education, offering a unique presentation of the emerging print culture in the Middle East.
Ami Ayalon is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University. His scholarly interest focuses on the cultural and political history of Arabic-speaking societies in modern times, with a recent accent on the entry of printing into the Middle East and its wider implications. Ayalon has published numerous studies on these subjects, including Language and Change in the Arab Middle East (1987), The Press in the Arab Middle East: A History (1995) and Reading Palestine: Printing and Literacy, 1900-1948 (2004).
Preface; Introduction: the problem of genesis; 1. The formative phase of Arab printing - a historical overview; 2. Printers and publishers; 3. Books, journals, cartes de visite; 4. Diffusion channels; 5. Advancing circulation; 6. Reading and readers; 7. Reading in public; Conclusion; Bibliography.