Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pg. 69: James Raven's "The Business of Books"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: James Raven's The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade 1450-1850.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1450 very few English men or women were personally familiar with a book; by 1850, the great majority of people daily encountered books, magazines, or newspapers. This book explores the history of this fundamental transformation, from the arrival of the printing press to the coming of steam. James Raven presents a lively and original account of the English book trade and the printers, booksellers, and entrepreneurs who promoted its development.

Viewing print and book culture through the lens of commerce, Raven offers a new interpretation of the genesis of literature and literary commerce in England. He draws on extensive archival sources to reconstruct the successes and failures of those involved in the book trade — a cast of heroes and heroines, villains, and rogues. And, through groundbreaking investigations of neglected aspects of book-trade history, Raven thoroughly revises our understanding of the massive popularization of the book and the dramatic expansion of its markets over the centuries.
Among the early praise for The Business of Books:

"The sweep of this book is remarkable — it single-handedly covers 400 years of the English book trade."
—John Barnard, University of Leeds

"A wonderfully rich, informative, and well-documented treatment of an important aspect of the history of the book."
—Ann Blair, Harvard University

"This is a masterful survey of the economics of publishing and the book trade in England from the origins of the handpress through the industrialization of the 19th century. The Business of Books brings a welcome new perspective to recent work in the history of the book which has mostly focused on texts, authors and readers rather than the trade itself."
—Ann Blair, Harvard University

"This is a compendious, confident, and fascinating work, the fruit of years of scholarship."
—John Mullan, University of London

James Raven was formerly Reader in Social and Cultural History at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford; Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and Munby Fellow in Bibliography and Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge. A member of the American Antiquarian Society, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a founding Director of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, he has also held various visiting appointments in the United States, France and Britain. He is Director of the Cambridge Project for the Book Trust (research and publications on and Director of the Mapping the Print Culture of Eighteenth-Century London project.

His other books include British Fiction 1750-1769 (1987), Judging New Wealth (1992), The English Novel 1770-1829 (2000), and London Booksellers and American Customers (2002).

The Page 69 Test: The Business of Books.

--Marshal Zeringue