There are a growing number of online resources dedicated to the history of the book and reading. The following listing is just a sampling of some of the most important ones.

Digital collections

Some of the largest collections of ancient books and other documents are available on the websites of libraries and other cultural institutions.


Major digital collections

An international set of libraries and other cultural institutions that offer access to a
range of source types, including books and manuscripts, art, maps, audio and video


Collections and guides focus specifically or mainly on manuscripts and provide access to a range of major collections from around the globe.

History of the Book and Reading

There are a lot of resources available online. In addition to some of our favorites, these research centers list some of the best on their pages.

  • SHARP – The Society for the History of Reading and Publishing
  • CERL – The Consortium of European Research Libraries
  • IHR – The Institute of Historical Research,  School of Advanced Study, Univ. of London

Online exhibitions

The Europeana offers excellent virtual exhibitions on books, reading and libraries. Among others, we highlight

  • The Art of Reading in the Middle Ages
  • Looted Library, Reconstructed Library: Books of Riga Jesuit College in Riga and Uppsala
  • The Rise of Literacy in Europe


A selection of some of our favorites blogs.

Book ownership

Among the most important international resources relating to readers and book owners are those presented or hosted by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL).

See, for example:

  • Early Book Owners in Britain (EBOB), private ownership of printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century.
  • Owners of Incunabula, which gathers biographical information on former and present owners, both personal and institutional
  • O CERL guia “Online Provenance Resources” – International coverage, predominantly European.

Book trade history

From printing and bookmaking to distribution and selling, the history of the book trade for various regions can be explored in these diverse resources.

  • Atlas of Early Printing in Europe, Interactive map, Iowa University
  • Edición iberamericana, online library Miguel de Cervantes
  • Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI), a database specifically designed to record and search the material evidence of 15th-century printed books
  • 15thcBOOKTRADE, Bibliography and links to research tools and scholarly literature.

Thesauri and vocabularies

Para colecionadores

Guides and useful information about the old book for those who want to buy or better understand the terminology of the old book:

  • A International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), from UK
  • A Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA)
  • The online bookstore Biblio.com, from USA


To better understand antiquarian book terminology

Online catalogues

Online catalogues provide valuable information about book production and library catalogues in a period or region.

National Catalogues

National library catalogs often contain the most complete record of a country’s production, as well as official versions of the names of authors from the country.

Collective catalogues


  • The European Library, que inclui 48 Bibliotecas Nacionais da Europa e as principais bibliotecas de pesquisa europeias.
  • Worldcat, que inclui milhares de coleções de bibliotecas de todo o mundo, principalmente mas não só de países ocidentais.

Early print

Online catalogues provide invaluable information about book production and
library holdings for a given period or region. Many are nationally based while others are the product of consortia or research groups.

  • English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), British Library .
  • Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC), British Library.
  • Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC), dir. por Andrew Pettegree, Univ. de St. Andrews.
  • Heritage of the Printed Book Database (HPB)



  • O Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) fornece uma lista descritiva para algumas das principais bibliotecas europeias
  • Para os estudantes portugueses de história do livro e leitura, a ferramenta Philobiblon, um catálogo histórico coletivo das «fontes em língua romana da cultura ibérica medieval e de inícios do Renascimento»
  • O Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts da Univ. da Pennsylvania reúne dados sobre manuscritos pré-modernos a partir de catálogos e inventários de todo o mundo.