1st Edition

The British Publishing Industry in the Nineteenth Century The Structure of the Industry

Edited By David Finkelstein, Andrew Nash Copyright 2024

    This volume assembles documents that illustrate the changing structure of the British publishing industry in the nineteenth century. It charts the increasing separation of the functions of printing, publishing and retailing in the production and distribution of books, and the emergence of new economic models of publishing. For most of the period the book trade operated on a shortage of capital, depending upon fragile networks of credit and debt which could lead, as in the financial crisis of 1825-6, to the collapse of many businesses. The volume documents how the structures of the industry impacted upon the pricing structure of books and periodicals and charts the slow emergence of a mass-market for print. Major points of contention such as the ‘taxes on knowledge’ and the battle over legal deposit are traced, along with recurring debates over discounting and underselling. The volume focuses on key moments such as the controversy over free trade in the 1840s and 1850s and the debates over price protection which led to the formation of the Net Book Agreement in 1900.

    Volume 1: The Structure of the Industry


    General Introduction

    Volume 1 Introduction



    1. ‘Regulations Governing the Issue of Trade Books’ (1828), in Joseph Shaylor, The Fascination of Books (London: Simpkin Marshall Hamilton Kent & Co., 1912), pp. 165-8.
    2. Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends: Memoir and Correspondence of the late John Murray (London: John Murray, 1891), Vol. 1, pp. 170-5, 185-8, 195-8.
    3. ‘On the Crisis of 1825-6’, Morning Chronicle, 30 Nov 1825, in Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondence (London: Edmonston and Douglas, 1873), vol. III, pp. 477-8.
    4. [Francis Barry Boyle St Leger], ‘The Book-Trade’, Monthly Magazine (July 1826), pp. 17-24.
    5. ‘Booksellers and Authors’, Literary Magnet (July 1826), pp. 65-74.
    6. Charles Babbage, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832; 4th edn, London: Charles Knight, 1835), pp. 205-10, 315-33.
    7. G.P.R. James, Some Observations on The Book Trade, as Connected with Literature, in England’, Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 6: 1 (1843), 50-60
    8. William Chambers, 'The Book Trade', Chambers' Cyclopaedia (1859), pp. 228-38
    9. Part 2. LEGAL CONTROLS

    10. Report from the Committee on Booksellers and Printers Petition (1802), pp. 3-15
    11. John Crawfurd, Taxes on Knowledge: A Financial and Historical View of the Taxes (London: Charles Ely, 1836), pp. 14-23.
    12. Charles Knight, The Struggles of a Book against Excessive Taxation (London, 1850).
    13. ‘Thomas Norton Longman’s Evidence to the Select Committee on Acts for the Encouragement of Learning’, from Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Committee on Acts of 8 Anne, and 15 & 41 Geo. III For the Encouragement of Learning, By vesting the Copies of Printed Books, in the Authors or Purchasers of such copies (1813), pp. 3-15.
    14. [John George] Cochrane, The Case Stated Between the Public Libraries and the Booksellers (London: J. Moyes, 1813), pp. 3-32
    15. ‘Publishers and Museum Library’, Critic (3 December 1859), pp. 17-18.
    16. Letters published in the Times, 8-16 February 1898 [Letters from Edward Marston (8 Feb); Herbert Spencer (10 Feb); W.E.H. Lecky (11 Feb); Times report on the correspondence (12 Feb) letters from Spencer (16 Feb); Marston (16 Feb)].
    17. Part 3. DISTRIBUTION

    18. Joseph Shaylor, ‘Booksellers’ Trade Dinner Sales’, Fortnightly Review (Dec 1907), pp. 1031-39.
    19. ‘Mr Murray's Trade Sale', Critic (26 Nov 1859), pp. 11-12
    20. ‘Bentley’s Trade Sale’, Bookseller (7 November 1888), p. 1237.
    21. James Grant, ‘Mr Thomas Tegg’, in Portrait of Public Characters (London: Saunders & Otley, 1841), pp. 24-46.
    22. ‘Abstract of Evidence by Charles Knight, G.B. Whitaker, and J.W. Parker to the Select Committee on Postage’, from Third Report of the Select Committee on Postage, together with an abstract of the evidence (1838), pp. 30-37.
    23. ‘Charles Knight’s Evidence to the Select Committee on Conveyance of Mail by Railways’, from Report from the Select Committee on Conveyance of Mails by Railways (1854), pp. 360-7.
    24. James Grant, ‘Bookselling: Paternoster Row’, in Travels in Town, 2 vols (London: Saunders & Otley, 1839), Vol. II: pp. 69-88.
    25. Joseph Shaylor, ‘On the Selling of Books’, Nineteenth Century (December 1896), pp. 937-43.
    26. ‘Booksellers of To-day: Messrs Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd’, Publishers’ Circular (11 May 1895), pp. 514-16. (images to be removed)

    28. ‘The Book-Trade’, Morning Post (31 Dec 1829).
    29. William Pickering, Booksellers' Monopoly (London, 1832).
    30. John Chapman, ‘The Commerce of Literature’, Westminster Review (April 1852), pp. 529-552.
    31. ‘Civil War in the Book Trade’, Spectator (3 April 1852), pp. 321-2.
    32. John Chapman, ‘A Reply to the Arguments Adduced in Support of the Booksellers Association’, in Report of the Proceedings of a meeting (consisting chiefly of authors), held May 4th at the house of John Chapmen … (1852), pp. 17-24
    33. ‘The Bookselling System’, selected correspondence to the Times, March-May 1852. Reprinted in Publishers and the Public: reprinted from the Times of 1852 (1906), pp. 3-5; 6-8; 11-13 (letter from Bickers and Bush); 23-24 (letter from Clericus); 24-28 (from the Times of April 16, 1852); 28-29 (letter from Educator); 38-44 (from the Times of May 18, 1852); 53-56 (from the Times of May 21, 1852); 63-66 (from the Times of May 31, 1852).
    34. The Book Trades', Athenaeum (22 May 1852), pp. 575-7.
    35. [J.W. Parker], 'The Makers, Sellers and Buyers of Books', Frasers' Magazine (June 1852), 711-24.
    36. Thomas Bosworth, On Rattening in the Book Trade (London: Thomas Bosworth, 1868), pp. 1-8.
    37. ‘Mr Bosworth and the Book Trade’, Bookseller (1 April 1868), pp. 217-18.
    38. Letter from Alexander Macmillan to W.E. Gladstone (10 April 1868), from Charles L. Graves, Life and Letters of Alexander Macmillan (London: Macmillan & Co., 1910), pp. 286-8.
    39. Part 5. THE NET BOOK SYSTEM

    40. Frederick Macmillan, ‘A Remedy for Underselling’, Bookseller (6 March 1890), p. 244.
    41. ‘A Remedy for Underselling’, Bookseller (6 March 1890), p. 241.
    42. ‘Is the Discount System Doomed? Answers of the Leading London Booksellers’, Pall Mall Gazette (12 March 1890), pp. 1-2.
    43. ‘Is the Discount System Doomed? The Bitter Cry of the Country Bookseller’, Pall Mall Gazette (14 March 1890), pp. 1-2.
    44. ‘Is the Discount System Doomed? The Attitude of the Publishing World’, Pall Mall Gazette (17 March 1890), pp. 1-2.
    45. ‘A Symposium on Discounts’, St James’s Budget, 2 November 1894, pp. 10-11. (REMOVE IMAGES)
    46. ‘Publishers and the Public’, The Speaker (10 November 1894), pp. 513-14.
    47. David Stott, ‘The Decay of Bookselling’, Nineteenth Century (Dec 1894), pp. 332-8.
    48. ‘The Publishers Association and the Discount Question’, [Speeches by C. J. Longman and Frederick Macmillan to the Publishers’ Association], Publishers' Circular (3 July 1897), pp. 7-9.
    49. ‘News Notes’, Bookman (August 1897), pp. 109-11.
    50. [Z], ‘Shall the Publishers Coerce the Booksellers?’, Bookman (August 1897), pp. 115-18
    51. Letters from Alfred Nutt and ‘Y’, Bookman (September 1897), pp. 150-2.
    52. Robert Maclehose, The Report of the Society of Authors on the Discount Question: A Criticism (Glasgow: J. Maclehose and Sons, 1897), pp. 3-22.
    53. Selected articles and correspondence in the Times published under ‘Authors, Publishers, and Booksellers’, 9-15 November 1897. [Original article, 9 November; letters from E. Marston and Robert Maclehose, 10 November; letters from the Editor of the Bookseller and Skeffington & Son, 11 November; letter from W. Day, 12 November; letters from The Writer of the Article; A Member of the Publishers’ Association; Mr J.B. Baddeley; A Country Bookseller; Publishers’ Reader, 15 November; ‘The bitter cry of the retail bookseller …’, 15 November].
    54. John A. Steuart, ‘Authors, Publishers and Booksellers’, Fortnightly Review (February 1898), pp. 255-63.



    Professor David Finkelstein (BA, PhD, FEA, FRHistS, FRSA) is a cultural historian who has published over 90 books, essays and refereed journal articles in areas related to nineteenth-century cultural history, print culture and media history, several of which have won awards. His most recent work includes Movable Types: Roving Creative Printers of the Victorian World (Oxford University Press, 2018), and the 850 page edited Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, volume 2: Expansion and Evolution, 1800-1900 (Edinburgh University Press, 2020). Current projects include a co-edited volume on the colonial periodical press, as well as work on print workplaces in Edwardian visual culture.

    Dr Andrew Nash (MA, MSc, PhD) is Reader in Book History and Deputy Director of the Institute of English Studies in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study where he directs the MA in the History of the Book and the London Rare Books School. In addition to monographs on Victorian literature and Scottish literature, he has edited or co-edited many works in the field of book and publishing history including The Culture of Collected Editions (2003), Literary Cultures and the Material Book (2007), New Directions in the History of the Novel (2014) and, most recently, The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, vol. 7: the Twentieth Century and Beyond (2019). He is part of a new Leverhulme-funded research project on the early history of the Society of Authors (2020-24).