Central to the current activities of the Book History Research Group is the United Kingdom Reading Experience Database project. UK RED catalogues the evidence of reading left by British readers at home (and abroad) as well as visitors to Britain from 1450 to 1945. An open access database to which anyone can contribute, it has over 33,000 unique entries offering valuable insights into reading practices through the ages. The resource is listed by the British Library as one of the top 100 websites capturing the digital universe. You can find out more about UK RED here. Professor Bob Owens (The Open University), Professor Simon Eliot (IES, University of London), Professor Alexis Weedon (University of Bedfordshire), and Dr Mary Hammond (University of Southampton) have been central to the development of the UK RED project, and they have remained involved with it as members of the project management group. Supported by an additional AHRC grant and with the participation of several members of the research group, UK RED has also worked towards establishing an international digital network in the history of reading, with partners in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand (2010-2011). Members of the Book History Research Group and UK RED team have also provided advice to other research projects in the Arts and Humanities, such as the Open University’s Listening Experience Database, Roehampton University’s Memories of Fiction: An Oral History of Readers’ Life Stories, and Newcastle University’s Voices and Books, 1500-1800 . Members of the UK RED are also currently involved in work towards an European Reading Experience Database (Eu-RED) through the current French National Research Council funded project, Reading in Europe (2015-2017).
The Group undertakes a range of different activities and events during each academic year. These include conferences, symposia, and seminars (more details below). The Group is a member of the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies, based at the Institute of English Studies (IES), School of Advanced Study, University of London, and actively contributes to the research culture of the IES. The Book History Research Group also collaborates with other research groups within the Open University and outside it, to organise joint events, such as the Criminal Book History Day, co-organised with the Crime Research Group in the History Department, or the Romantic Book day symposium, co-organised with the Romantic Period Research Group in the English Department; and the Book in Africa day conference, co-organised with the Open University’s Postcolonial Literatures Research Group and the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, Oxford Brookes University.