This introduction takes the disciplinary exchanges between descriptive bibliography and histories of ‘print culture’ as a point of orientation. It explores the ‘Myths of Mass Communication’ cited by critics of book history, and elucidates the ways this volume characterises the new readerships generated by the commercial production of printed music. Printing has long been taken as a prime medium of cultural transmission, a technology perfectly designed to circulate knowledge, beliefs and cultural forms like literature and music. Investigations like the aforementioned, which tangle with questions of audience, public, marketing, pricing and reception through the optic of specific editions, local cultures and individual print houses, consistently knock up against the material pressures that constrained the establishment of presses and distribution of printed matter.