The study of book history is in its infancy in South Africa, with a small group of scholars
working in the area and little sense of a shared body of literature, which could be used as
foundational texts for those wishing to conduct research in this fi eld. This article describes
an attempt to map the terrain of book and print culture studies in South Africa to date.
Although it is only in recent years that writings have come to be grouped under a broader
heading of book history (whether at conferences or in special issues of journals), work
has been done in this fi eld since the early twentieth century. This is similar to the situation
in other countries, where the ‘accidental’ growth of book history has meant that a great
deal of work has been done on a wide variety of relevant topics. The article describes
key strands in the literature, including print history, publishing history, the overlap with
literary history, and studies of readership and reception.