Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England

Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England

James Raven

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Many more people encountered newspapers, business press products or jobbing print than the glamorous books of the Enlightenment. This book looks at the way in which print effected a business revolution.
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.

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Table of Contents

The Mediation of the Press
England and the Uneven Economic Miracle
The Printed and the Printers
Serviced by Stationery and Printing
Printing and the City of London
The Advertisers
Instruction and Guidance
Widening Discussion
Business, Publishing and the Gentleman Reader
Select Bibliography


The delight of this study is actually in the many surprising discoveries that Raven has collected as the basis for his larger argument. LIBRARY

The breadth and nuance of this study make its arguments persuasive and make it a significant contribution to the history of the book and of printing. PAPERS OF THE BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA

An innovative and exciting book [which] represents a major scholarly achievement and step forward not simply in linking the history of printing and trade, but in challenging influential trends in eighteenth-century historiography more broadly.. It deserves to be read by anyone interested in the social, economic, educational or political history of eighteenth-century Britain. HISTORY

[An] exceptionally fertile and knowledgeable book. ARCHIVES

With Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England, Raven makes his position as the doyen of eighteenth-century book trade historians pretty much unassailable.. Raven has cleared the way for a new wave of financially literate research into the knowledge economies of eighteenth-century Britain. SHARP NEWS

Convincingly shows that the printing business did more than profit from the new information age - it had a key role in sustaining the "English miracle". TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

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