Prior to the Civil War, publishing in America underwent a transformation from a genteel artisan trade supported by civic patronage and religious groups to a thriving, cut-throat national industry propelled by profit. Literary Dollars and Social Sense represents an important chapter in the historical experience of print culture, it illuminates the phenomenon of amateur writing and delineates the access points of the emerging mass market for print for distributors consumers and writers. It challenges the conventional assumptions that the literary public had little trouble embracing the new literary marketing that emerged at mid-century. The book uncover the tensions that author's faced between literature's role in the traditional moral economy and the lure of literary dollars for personal gain and fame. This book marks an important example in how scholars understand and conduct research in American literature.
Ronald J. Zboray is Associate Professor of Communication and of History at the University of Pittsburgh. Among his books are A Fictive People: Antebellum Economic Development and the American Reading Public (Oxford).
Mary Saracino Zboray is an independent scholar; she is coauthor, with Ron Zboray, of A Handbook for the Study of Book History in the United States (Library of Congress).
'Overall, this is a significant, highly readable, and exhaustively researched study of a particularly dynamic period in the history of American authorship.' – The Journal of American History