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Call for Papers: International Conference in Book History National Library of Latvia, Riga November 25–27, 2024. Footprints of the Early Modern Book Trade: Transnational Mobility between the Low Count

Proposals for papers are invited for the international conference ‘Footprints of the Early Modern Book Trade: Transnational Mobility between the Low Countries and the Baltic Sea Region’, which will

take place from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 27 November 2024 at the National Library of Latvia (NLL), Riga.


The goal of the conference is to discuss the dynamics of social and geographical mobility reflected by the Early Modern printers, book trade, printing equipment and printed works, and cross-border movement of knowledge, skill and tradition. The printing revolution of the Early Modern Era was not merely a technological innovation; it was a catalyst for social, cultural, and intellectual change. The conference will illuminate the ways in which printing practices contributed to the promotion of literacy, education, and the spread of ideas across societies and established networks. Additionally, the influence of printers, booksellers and libraries will be explored, uncovering the diverse voices and perspectives that shaped the book of the Early Modern. Furthermore, the conference will examine the spread of the book from major commercial centres to smaller regional areas.


The conference theme derives from the narrative of Riga’s first printer, Nicolaus Mollyn (Niclaes Mollijns): he was born into the family of an Antwerp printer and wood-engraver, began his career as an apprentice at Christophe Plantin’s printing office in 1573, and started working as an independent printer in Riga in 1588, where he introduced the long-awaited printing press to Livonia.


The work of Nicolaus Mollyn propelled the print culture in the Baltic region. The embraced typographical knowledge, tools, and printed works underscore the interconnection between the Baltics and the Low Countries, highlighting the historical ties and inherited legacy.

In this context, this international conference seeks to explore the intricate interplay between printing, trade, and mobility during this transformative period. We invite scholars to submit papers on the following topics, focusing on connections between the Baltic Sea area and the Low Countries in the Early Modern period:

• The movement of printers and their apprentices, printing tools and printed works across geographical and social borders.

• The transfer of typographical knowledge and commercial practices.

• The motion of books and library collections.

• The development of book related commercial relations between the Baltic Sea region and the Low Countries, including book fairs.


Conference languages: Latvian and English. Participation is free of charge. Please send your proposals paired with an abstract of 1000–3000 characters (including spaces) with a brief biographical note (academic position/degree, affiliation and main achievements) to with the subject NLL Early Modern Book Trade by 1 July 2024.

Decisions will be made until mid-July 2024.


The conference is organized by the National Library of Latvia in partnership with the University of Antwerp and Museum Plantin-Moretus. Conference is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and is endorsed by the Consortium of European Research Libraries. It will be part of the anniversary programme of the 500 Years of Latvian Books. Proceedings of the conferences are planned to be published.



Additional information:

Ineta Vaivode

Project Manager of the Research and Interpretation Centre

National Library of Latvia


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