Studies in the history of books and the book trade
thesisposted on 09.05.2018, 13:37 by John P. Feather
The books and papers offered in this submission are concerned with the history of books and the book trade. Three papers (nos. 1, 2, 3) offer a theoretical and conceptual framework for historical studies of the book. In essence, it is argued that since the book is a societal object it can only be understood in a societal context. Consequently historical studies of books are concerned with far more than physical bibliography, important as that is. The writing, publishing and reading of books are activities which develop out of, and influence the further development of, political and economic systems. The political context of publishing and its legal status is of central concern to the book historian (nos. 12, 14, 15); so too are the mechanisms of sale and distribution (nos. 9, 10, 11, 16) and the relationships between the author who is the primary producer, and the publisher who provides his commercial link with the reader (no. 13). More specifically, the central group of works is concerned with the provincial book trade in 18th-century England. The general study (no. 8) is a wide-ranging survey, largely based on primary sources, of the development and operation of the complex systems which allowed the printed word to permeate English society at every level and in every part of the country between 1700 and 1800. Shorter studies consider some more detailed aspects of the same subject (nos. 4, 6, 7) and survey previous work in the field (no. 5 ).
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