Drawing on research into the book-production records of twelve publishers-including George Bell & Son, Richard Bentley, William Blackwood, Chatto & Windus, Oliver & Boyd, Macmillan, and the book printers William Clowes and T&A Constable - taken at ten-year intervals from 1836 to 1916, this book interprets broad trends in the growth and diversity of book publishing in Victorian Britain. Chapters explore the significance of the export trade to the colonies and the rising importance of towns outside London as centres of publishing; the influence of technological change in increasing the variety and quantity of books; and how the business practice of literary publishing developed to expand the market for British and American authors. The book takes examples from the purchase and sale of popular fiction by Ouida, Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Ewing, and canonical authors such as George Eliot, Wilkie Collins, and Mark Twain. Consideration of the unique demands of the educational market complements the focus on fiction, as readers, arithmetic books, music, geography, science textbooks, and Greek and Latin classics became a staple for an increasing number of publishing houses wishing to spread the risk of novel publication.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Archives and information sources; The growth of the mass market for books; Trends in book production costs; Looking after the bottom line; Educational publishing; Publishing strategies for the mass market: a case study; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
Alexis Weedon did her D.Phil at Linacre College, Oxford, on William Hurrell Mallock. She worked for a time in publishing before becoming a postdoctoral researcher on the History of the Book in Britain project. Since its foundation in 1996, she has co-edited the academic journal Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies and is currently a principal lecturer in publishing and the new media at the University of Luton.
'An important and significant work that makes a genuine contribution to the history of the book and book publishing during nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Britain.' William Baker, Professor of English, Northern Illinois University '... [for] those who wish to understand how literature is actually written, published, read and only then valued, this deeply researched and well written book will prove essential reading.' Contemporary Review 'Weedon has finally published the results of many years' research into the business of book production... The results are a bonanza for those needing well-defined and researched details of trends in British book production for the eighty years covered in this survey... The details are impressive, the scholarship obvious... offers a great deal of important information on the growth, development and maturing of the British book trade in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.' Library History 'The appendices of the book are as valuable as the chapters.' Sharp 'Weedon offers a great deal of important statistical information in this book... Historians of publishing are now able to ask questions that we could not previously hope to answer.' Economic History Review '... one of the most extensive analyses of the Victorian British book publishing industry to date... illuminates broad trends in the growth and diversity of book publishing in Britain and its colonies... includes some important new research and a definite refinement in the economic analysis of the available evidence on Victorian book publishing... packed with tables and figures, most of which are so clearly laid out and well footnoted that the most statistics-averse readers can make sense of them... essential foundational reading in Victorian publishing history.' Victorian Periodicals Review 'This is an important book for anyone interested in the process of book production and the transmission of ideas during the long nineteenth century... This book is a notable addition to Ashgate's 'Nineteenth Century' series. It provides an excellent introduction to set of sources that has been surprisingly neglected by book historians and others interested in the material text.' Journal of the Printing Historical Society