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Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England

Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England

James Raven
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England
    Book Description:

    Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England assesses the contribution of the business press and the publication of print to the economic transformation of England. The impact of non-book printing has been long neglected. A raft of jobbing work serviced commerce and finance while many more practical guides and more ephemeral pamphlets on trade and investment were read than the books that we now associate with the foundations of modern political economy. A pivotal change in the book trades, apparent from the late seventeenth century, was the increased separation of printers from bookseller-publishers, from the skilled artisan to the bookseller-financier who might have no prior training in the printing house but who took up the sale of publications as another commodity. This book examines the broader social relationship between publication and the practical conduct of trade; the book asks what it meant to be 'published' and how print, text and image related to the involvement of script. The age of Enlightenment was an age of astonishing commercial and financial transformation offering printers and the business press new market opportunities. Print helped to effect a business revolution. The reliability, reputation, regularity, authority and familiarity of print increased trust and confidence and changed attitudes and behaviours. New modes of publication and the wide-ranging products of printing houses had huge implications for the way lives were managed, regulated and recorded. JAMES RAVEN is Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex and a Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-372-0
    Subjects: History, Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. Notes on Dates, Booksellers, Founts and Intaglio
    (pp. XI-XII)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  6. 1 The Mediation of the Press
    (pp. 1-16)

    Printers and stationers proved potent if fitful agents in religious and political change in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe but, during the eighteenth century, print exerted new influence in subtle and far-reaching ways. The impact of the printing press in finance and commerce was manifest in England and in the British Isles whose economies advanced so extensively from the late seventeenth century. Printers promoted and serviced unprecedented financial and commercial expansion. The scale of press activity was also exceptional. In England, book, pamphlet and newspaper production soared, but in the years between the lapse of the licensing laws in 1695 and...

  7. 2 England and the Uneven Economic Miracle
    (pp. 17-32)

    Printers’ products and services contributed to an economic transformation of startling range and complexity. The ‘English miracle’¹ was part of broader British developments, coaxed by changing political frameworks across the three kingdoms and by expansion overseas. At the close of the seventeenth century, England exported goods to the value of£6.5 million per year and imported goods worth about£6 million. By 1816, English, Scottish and Irish exports were worth£39 million in official (constant price) values; imports were worth£33.6 million. An English and Welsh national income of about£48 million in 1688 compares to a combined English, Welsh...

  8. 3 The Printed and the Printers
    (pp. 33-62)

    ‘Publishing’ is a very broad activity. It is the making public, to a lesser or greater extent, of material items that are scribal, printed or a mixture of both, and textual or pictorial or a mixture of both. Publishing is the dissemination of materials that are books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, single sheets, or a great range of small printed items such as forms and advertisements, or an indeterminate amalgam or blend of these formats. As the commercial market for books and print developed in early modern and eighteenth-century England, so did the different profiles of demand, distribution and financial mediation....

  9. 4 Serviced by Stationery and Printing
    (pp. 63-84)

    The business strategies of the printers reflected their locality as well as the strength of their client and market relationships. Long-term contracts and sustained demand for a specific publication were relatively rare. Flexibility and diversity of operation was usually the basis of survival. This was especially so given the underdevelopment of regional and local markets where the products of the printing house and the skills of the printer were adapted to an increasingly wide and experimental range of business needs.

    Recovering the business profile of the eighteenth-century printer’s office is problematic. Much of the actual servicing of commerce by print...

  10. 5 Printing and the City of London
    (pp. 85-113)

    Eighteenth-century London acted as a principal clearing centre for financial and commercial agreements, and for the development of public and private investment in bonds and stocks and in insurance against risk and disaster. In the provinces there followed a gradual enlargement of the money market and of credit and insurance services, but London (and for particular services and printing, particular parts of London) continued to be the hub of affairs.

    Without the work of the metropolitan printer it is impossible to explain the success of the financial experiments of the 1690s: the stock-jobbing explosion of the late seventeenth and early...

  11. 6 Advertising
    (pp. 114-134)

    The commercial practices and customer services associated with a developing ‘consumer mentality’ are now standard features of economic histories of eighteenth-century England.¹ Much of this almost wholly domestic consumer activity, whether emulative buying or the entrepreneurial stimulation of demand, would have been impossible without the extension of jobbing printing after 1700. From the first decades of the century, the increase in the number of printing houses and improvements in engraving, letterpress typography and paper-making served merchants, manufacturers and retailers. Less obvious activities of the local printer also encouraged market development. The distributional services of the pressman and stationer were used...

  12. 7 The Advertisers
    (pp. 135-148)

    The surge in advertising copy sent to newspaper proprietors, and the consequent expansion in space allocated to notices and in monies received, are the best testimony to the effectiveness of advertising in the promotion of trade and services. Although claims that over half the population of London was regularly in touch with the content of the newspaper columns¹ must be exaggerated, trading patterns were certainly altered by the intervention of newsprint. In London and at port towns, merchants used the newspapers to detail the latest unloaded or expected goods from overseas or from home coastal districts. Manufacturers used newspapers in...

  13. 8 Intelligence
    (pp. 149-179)

    Print ensured that financial and commercial information was published and circulated with increasing regularity. As publishers’ methods and practices evolved during the eighteenth century, greater reliability was also claimed – and, in general, accepted. The gathering of financial and commercial information and the efficiency of its publication became increasingly specialist tasks. Above all, the nature and contemporary perception of ‘publication’ was of fundamental importance to the collection and dissemination of business and financial intelligence. Distinctions between private and public usage became increasingly important, much perhaps as today’s understanding and regulation of insider trading depends critically upon the procedures and rules...

  14. 9 Instruction and Guidance
    (pp. 180-205)

    The subject of this chapter comes deliberately late in the organization of a book designed to reimagine the full compass of ‘business publishing’ and the mundane but critical handling of print that enabled and informed economic concerns. Most historical assessments of the contribution of print to society focus on the reading of books and understand the relationship between books and trade as a history of economic thought. Published works, however, were also responsible for far-reaching changes in the teaching and practice of commercial skills. From the late seventeenth century there was a very obvious increase in the number of small,...

  15. 10 Wider Discussion
    (pp. 206-229)

    Literary historians and sociologists have spoken of the social impact of print as a form of restructuring consciousness. Historical reconstructions of attitudinal change have been greatly assisted by broad questions about the penetration of literature in society through studies of production, retail, borrowing and circulation, about the use to which books were put, and about the objective of writers and the confidence placed in their message.¹ The broader question of ‘printedness’ raised issues, as also addressed by earlier chapters here, particularly in relation to jobbing printing and the production of small printed items. The history of publishing that informed and...

  16. 11 Business, Publishing and the Gentleman Reader
    (pp. 230-255)

    Through the mediation of print, propertied gentlemen and gentlewomen, principal customers of the booksellers, viewed economic progress in their world and the moral implications of new wealth and new methods of business. With eighteenth-century presses providing more people with more information upon economic matters than ever before, a broad range of readers were offered unprecedented advice on how to conduct their financial affairs and how to understand the nature of commerce. Newspapers, pamphlets, manuals and magazines popularized current intellectual debate, often absurdly simplifying intricate propositions but also widening their audience and inviting public response. Booksellers and compilers made handsome profits...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 256-275)

    This study identifies consequential connections between diverse types of late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century printed and semi-printed materials, and productive relationships between small items such as jobbing forms and documents, and larger publications including newspapers, pamphlets and books that communicated commercial and financial information, guidance and opinion. Also at issue is the connection between the matter carried by print and how print conveyed it, the most important products of that connection being knowledge, accuracy, efficiency, security, authority and the creation of trust. In the 120 years between 1680 and 1800, stationers, printers, engravers and booksellers contributed to a multiplication of material...

  18. Bibliography of Printed Sources
    (pp. 276-310)
  19. Index
    (pp. 311-334)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-335)