“Some Comments on the Bibliographical Concept of ‘Issue'” by Joel Myerson

This essay tackles a very baffling subject of ‘issue’ which does not have a fixed definition. Joel Myerson invokes scholars and experts in bibliography like Fredson Bowers and G. Thomas Tanselle, to name a couple. As I read this essay, I took many marginal notes in order to make sense of this deceivingly simple concept that takes time to wrap one’s head around. I think this is one article that must be read over the course of one’s career in order to fully understand it. I also think having physical examples along with illustrative analogies.

He sets up his discussion of issue through an analysis and comparison of different definitions of this term. He does not explicitly state that one is the correction definition, but gives his options about which ones fit the contemporary usage. Additionally, he discusses the effects of publishers and printers on this topic. The notes and bibliography of this essay would be a great place to start if one is interested in learning more about issue and descriptive terminology related to rare books.

I think this article is useful for anyone in rare books because it introduces historically important works in the field and presents a mulch-perspective view of a definition. It demonstrates that even with a field like rare books, and many others, there are sometimes disagreements about common definitions for terms in the discipline.

*Myerson, Joel. “Some Comments on the Bibliographical Concept of ‘Issue’.” South Central Review 5.1 (1988): 8-16.


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