The Bookseller of Florence captures the excitement and spirit of the Renaissance amid the technological disruption that forever changed the ways knowledge spread, from the bestselling author of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling.
The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of the dazzling handiwork of the city’s skilled artists and architects. But equally important for the centuries to follow were geniuses of a different sort: Florence’s manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars, and booksellers, who blew the dust off a thousand years of history and, through the discovery and diffusion of ancient knowledge, imagined a new and enlightened world.
Born in 1422, Vespasiano da Bisticci became what a friend called “the king of the world’s booksellers.” At a time when all books were made by hand, for over four decades Vespasiano produced and sold hundreds of volumes from his bookshop, which also became a gathering spot for discussion and debate. His clients included a roll-call of popes, kings, and princes across Europe.
Vespasiano reached the summit of his powers as Europe’s most prolific merchant of knowledge when a new invention appeared: the printed book. By 1480, the king of the world’s booksellers was swept away by this epic technological disruption, whereby cheaply produced books reached readers who never could have afforded one of Vespasiano’s elegant manuscripts.
A thrilling chronicle of intellectual ferment set against the dramatic political and religious turmoil of the era, The Bookseller of Florence is also an ode to books and bookmaking that charts the world-changing shift from script to print through the life of one of the true titans of the Renaissance.