For several decades there have been efforts throughout Europe to investigate the national histories of books, their printing and the book trades.
The British History of books, which started in the early Middles Ages and continues to date, comprises not only the establishment of printed books in Great Britain, but also the import and buying of them. The private ownership of printed books is up to now a barely investigated question. Margaret Lane Ford addresses herself to this task in respect of the private ownership of printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century. For a contribution to The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain she has gathered evidences of provenances for the time period in question from over 4300 printed works in the past, books in private ownership had a high practical value and were of importance for the professionalism. Classical and theological texts were indispensable for the university-educated and the students, while technical works were needed by merchants and handcrafters.
Other owners of books were for example the monasteries, who used books in their scriptoria and the gentry, who had the means to acquire books for mere luxury.