Feather: A History of British Publishing

Cover of Feather, A History of British Publishing

Wide coverage of six hundred years of British book publishing, which emphasises the importance of copyright and the role of the publisher.

From the book:

“Mutality of interest in the sales of books led to mutality of interest in their publication. The 1699 edition of Abel Boyer’s Royal Dictionary appears to have been printed for the members of the wholesaling conger collectively (Hodgson and Blagden 1956: 82–4). In this case, they were working together to finance the book from the beginning rather than merely collaborating in selling it when it was completed. The wholesaling conger did not repeat this experiment until 1711, but long before then other groups in the trade, also called congers by contemporaries, were regularly operating in this way. By 1706 at the latest, copy-owning congers were a recognised feature of the trade (Hodgson and Blagden 1956: 85–6). Essentially, the members of a copy-owning conger were owners of shares in a group of copies, although, as with the wholesaling conger, there was not necessarily a complete overlap of interests. Although membership of these congers was limited, it was never precisely defined; groups of booksellers often worked together on an ad hoc basis for particular titles.”

A History of British Publishing
Second Edition, Routledge
Hardback, paperback, ebook, 2006
John Feather is Emeritus Professor of Library and Information Studies at the University of Loughborough.


A note on countries, dates and money

PART I: The early modern book trade
1 Literacy, print and culture in Early modern England
2 The development of the book trade
3 The book trade and the state
4 The market for books
PART II: Publishing in the industrial age
5 The first publishers
6 The book trade and the industrial revolution
7 Publishing is a free trade economy
8 The diffusion of knowledge
9 The age of the novel
10 Authors and publishers
PART III: The publishing industry in the twentieth century
11 The first of the mass media
12 The publishing industry
13 Paperback publishing
14 Publishing for the Empire
15 The trade in war and peace
16 New competitors
17 The second industrial revolution
18 British publishing in a global economy
A note on further reading

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