1st Edition

The English Book Trade An Economic History of the Making and Sale of Books

By Marjorie Plant Copyright 1974
    546 Pages
    by Routledge

    Originally published in 1938, and as a third edition in 1974, this volume presents the results of original research into the economic aspects of the transition from the medieval manuscript to the modern printed book. It discusses the problems of supply of materials and labour created by the introduction of machinery and the growth of the literary market. The social evolution of the printing crafts is portrayed, focussing first upon the Stationers’ Company and later upon the trade union. The book traces the development of the author-printer-publisher relationship, and its bearing on the question of copyright and reviews, inter alia the organisation and price policy of bookselling from the days of legal maximum prices to the net book agreement. The 3rd edition contains sections on Public Lending Right, paperbacks, photo-copying in its relation to publishing and the rise of international publishing.


    Part 1: The Age of Hand-Printing 1. Introduction 2. The Demand For Books 3. The Division of Labour in the Book Industry 4. The Structure of the Industry in the Period of Hand-Production 5. Copyright 6. Early Trade and Labour Organisation 7. Labour Supply and Conditions of Employment 8. Premises and Equipment 9. The Supply of Paper 10. Binding Materials 11. Financial Organisation and Terms of Publication 12. The Sale of Books Part 2: The Application of Mechanical Power 13. The Application of Mechanical Power to Printing 14. The Accessories of Modern Printing 15. Paper in the Machine Age 16. Modern Bookbinding 17. Modern Labour Conditions 18. The Rise of the Trade Unions 19. The Cost of Books in the Age of Mechanical Power 20. Copyright and Competition 21. The Volume of Production Since the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century.


    Marjorie Plant was Deputy Librarian of the British Library of Politcal and Economic Science at the LSE from 1945 to 1968. 

    Original Review of The English Book Trade:

    ‘This is a book which every book-lover should read and from which every economist interested in industrial organisation can cull unending examples of the infinite adaptability of structure to circumstances.’ The Economic Journal