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Early modern printers, publishers and booksellers not only influenced readers to purchase particular books but continue to shape our reception of printed books today. Through title-page advertisements, prefaces and indexes, these ‘print agents’ forged unique relationships with new and returning readers. Paying attention to paratextual structures can uncover strategies for marketing new books, corralling readers and outlining new genres. A consideration of framing devices can also further our understanding of digital resources: much as print agents mediated printed books, digital humanists help reinforce the value of new technologies for the study of early modern texts, guiding users to apply new methods of research, and helping establish new areas of scholarship. As a new kind of print agent, digital humanists must be more aware of their choices in curating, organising and labeling metadata. As we rethink what it means to read, edit and disseminate texts through the digital medium, we must also understand the degree to which modern and early modern editorial practices challenge and influence our scholarship and criticism.


This is the accepted manuscript of an article originally published in History of European Ideas, available at



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