The literary world of pre-colonial Vietnam is not well understood. Imported and locally produced books written in literary Sinitic (Hán), the Vietnamese script Nôm, or a combination of the two circulated simultaneously. My project catalogues the imported books that were available to Vietnamese readers in the 18th and 19th centuries in order to make clear how these texts generated—or inhibited—new texts. It explores the reading practices Vietnamese readers used to process books written in a foreign language. I demonstrate that Vietnamese publishers and authors both employed tools of information management that originated in China and developed their own Nôm-based tools.