As part of my talk at this year’s Books in Browser’s conference hosted at the Internet Archive, I discussed the creative possibilities of a Canon. Over the last few months, I’ve unscientifically, and completely biased-ly approached a number of smart people involved in publishing and the hacking of books to make suggestions about titles to include.

Here’s the current big list as it stands. Where possible, I’ve included a link to the file to read (and a ‘gray’ copies of some of the shorter texts).

Have a suggestion? Add it as a comment to this post and I’ll add it. Then, on December 1st, I’ll be opening the list up to an (unscientific) polling process to see if we can whittle down the list to a smaller core selection of works.

So without adieu.

Proposed works to include in a Canon of Publishing

Business & Law

  • Anderson, Chris. 2004. “The long tail” in Wired Magazine. New York: Hyperion. (external link)
  • Christensen, Clayton M. 2003. The innovator’s dilemma: the revolutionary book that will changed the way you do business. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Lessig, Lawrence. 2004. Free culture: how big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity. New York: Penguin Press. (external link to download)
  • Levitt, Ted. 1960. “Marketing Myopia” in the Harvard Business Review. (pdf)
  • Simon, Herbert. 1971. “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” inComputer, Communications and the Public Interest, Johns Hopkins University Press.


  • Gill, Eric. 1936. An essay on typography. London: Sheed & Ward.
  • McCloud, Scott. 1994. Understanding comics: the invisible art. New York: HarperPerennial.
  • Warde, Beatrice. 1955. The Crystal Goblet. (pdf)


  • Bradbury, Ray. 1953. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Balzac, Honore´ de. 1901. Lost illusions. London: Privately printed for members of the Society of English Bibliophilists. (Ellen Marriage, Translator) (external link)
  • Borges, Jorge Luis. 1964. Labyrinths; selected stories & other writings. New York: New Directions Pub. Corp.
  • Cortazar, Julio. 1963. Hopscotch. Dewey. (Gregory Rabassa, translator)
  • Doctorow, Cory. 2006. Printcrime. (external link)
  • Miller, Walter M. 1975. A Canticle for Leibowitz. Boston: Gregg Press.
  • Sloan, Robin. 2009. Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store. (external link)
  • Stephenson, Neal. 1995. The Diamond Age, or, Young lady’s illustrated primer. New York: Bantam Books.
  • Vinge, Vernor. 2006. Rainbows end. New York: Tor.


Web and New Media Publications

Media, Reading, & Writing

  • Adams, Lisa, and John Heath. 2007. Why we read what we read: a delightfully opinionated journey through contemporary bestsellers. Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks.
  • Anderson, Benedict R. O’G. 1991. Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.
  • Benjamin, Walter. 1923. Task of the Translator. (Harry Zohn, Translator) (pdf)
  • Benjamin, Walter. 1931. Unpacking my Library. (Harry Zohn, Translator) (pdf)
  • Benjamin, Walter. 1936. Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. (Harry Zohn, Translator) (pdf)
  • Bolter, J. David. 1991. Writing space: the computer, hypertext, and the history of writing. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.
  • Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. 2006. The anxiety of obsolescence: the American novel in the age of television. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
  • Illich, Ivan, and Barry Sanders. 1988. ABC: the alphabetization of the popular mind. San Francisco: North Point Press.
  • Innis, Harrold. 1949. The bias of communication. Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, 15(4), 457–476. University of Toronto Press. (pdf)
  • Lanham, Richard A. 2007. The economics of attention: style and substance in the age of information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Lethem, Jonathan.  Feb 2007. “The Ecstasy of Influence” in Harper’s Magazine. New York. Vol. 314, Iss. 1881; p. 59. (pdf)
  • Levy, Steven.  November 26, 2007. “The Future of Reading” in Newsweek. (external link)
  • McArthur, Tom. 1986. Worlds of reference: lexicography, learning, and language from the clay tablet to the computer. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press.
  • McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding media; the extensions of man. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Meyrowitz, Joshua. 1985. No sense of place: the impact of electronic media on social behavior. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Ong, Walter J. 1982. Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.
  • Popper, Karl R. 1972. Objective knowledge; an evolutionary approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Publishing and Printing

  • Arnold, Bruce. 1992. The scandal of Ulysses: the sensational life of a twentieth-century masterpiece. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Bennett, Paul A. 1963. Books and printing; a treasury for typophiles. Cleveland: World Pub. Co.
  • Chappell, Warren, and Robert Bringhurst. 1999. A short history of the printed word. Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks Publishers.
  • Cerf, Bennett. 2002. At Random: the reminiscences of Bennett Cerf. New York: Random House.
  • Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1983. The printing revolution in early modern Europe. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press.
  • Epstein, Jason. March 1, 1990. “The Decline and Rise of Publishing” in the New York Review of Books. (pdf)
  • Epstein, Jason. April 27, 2000. “The Rattle of Pebbles” in the New York Review of Books. (pdf)
  • Epstein, Jason. 2001. Book business: publishing past, present, and future. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Febvre, Lucien Paul Victor, and Henri-Jean Martin. 1976. The coming of the book: the impact of printing 1450-1800. The foundations of history library. London: N.L.B.
  • Greco, Albert N., Clara E. Rodriguez, and Robert M. Wharton. 2007. The culture and commerce of publishing in the 21st century. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Business Books.
  • Miller, Russell. 1998. Magnum: fifty years at the front line of history. New York: Grove Press.
  • Owen, David. 2004. Copies in seconds: how a lone inventor and an unknown company created the biggest communication breakthrough since Gutenberg : Chester Carlson and the birth of the Xerox machine. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Potter, Clarkson N. 1990. Who does what and why in book publishing. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Pub. Group.
  • Ransom, Will. 1929. Private presses and their books. New York: R.R. Bowker company.
  • Rogers, W. G. 1965. Wise men fish here: the story of Frances Steloff and the Gotham Book Mart. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
  • Silverman, Al. 2008. The time of their lives: the golden age of great American book publishers, their editors, and authors. New York: Truman Talley Books.
  • Shatzkin, Leonard. 1982. In cold type: overcoming the book crisis. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Striphas, Theodore G. 2009. The late age of print: everyday book culture from consumerism to control. New York: Columbia University Press. (external link to download)
  • Thompson, John B. 2010. Merchants of culture: the publishing business in the twenty-first century. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Unwin, Sir Stanley. 1946. The truth about publishing. London: G. Allen & Unwin Ltd. (internet archive)