This essay is based on the seventeenth annual D. F. McKenzie lecture given at the University of Oxford on 2 March 2011. McKenzie is best known for his tolerant unrolling of the bibliographical into wider cultural and social realms, together with his implication that the material book can be treated as an index of them. Eggert’s essay argues for a timely counterbalance: the need for a regathering of the concept of the work, which largely fell from view during the period of high literary theory. A new model for interpretation is proposed by building reading, and thus the aesthetic, into the definition of the work, while retaining the evidentiary witness of the material book. The model offers, in other words, a justification for folding book history and bibliography into the literary study of all works that have enjoyed an extended history of printing and reprinting.