Gutenberg in Shanghai
408 pages, 6 x 9
45 b&w illustrations
Release Date:01 Jan 2005
Release Date:25 Mar 2004
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

Gutenberg in Shanghai

Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937

UBC Press

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 examines 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.

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 be enthusiastically received by scholars of Chinese history and by specialists in cultural studies, political science, sociology, the history of the book, and the anthropology of science and technology.


  • 2005, Winner - Book Prize - Humanities, International Convention of Asian Scholars
  • 2005, Commended - Delong Book Prize, Society for the History of Authorship
Christopher A. Reed is a member of the History Department at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.


1 Gutenberg’s Descendants: Transferring Industrialized Printing Technology to China, 1807-1930

2 Janus-Faced Pioneers: The Golden Age of Shanghai’s Lithographic Printer-Publishers, 1876-1905

3 "Sooty Sons of Vulcan": Forging Shanghai’s Printing Machinery, 1897-1937

4 "The Hub of the Wheel": Commerce, Technology, and Organizational Innovation in Shanghai’s New-Style Publishing World, 1876-c. 1911

5 "The Three Legs of the Tripod": Commercial Press, Zhonghua Books, and World Books, 1912-37




Selected Asian-Language Bibliography

Selected Western-Language Bibliography


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