The development of the Western printed book in the hand-press period, from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 19th century. The topics covered include the invention and spread of printing in Europe; the development of typographic book design and illustration; the rise of the publishing industry; freedom and the regulation of the press; the increase in literacy and its social consequences; the traffic in printed matter and the growth of personal and institutional collections; and the impact of the Industrial Revolution.
Rare Book School (RBS) is an independent, non-profit institute supporting the study of the history of books and printing and related subjects. Founded in 1983, it moved to its present home at the University of Virginia in 1992. At various times during the year, Rare Book School offers about 30 five-day courses on topics concerning old and rare books, manuscripts, and special collections. The majority of courses take place in Charlottesville, but courses are also offered in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. Most courses are limited to twelve or fewer students, who make a full-time commitment to any course they attend, from 8:30 or 9 am through 5 pm, Monday - Friday.