Thursday, July 12, 2007

"The Business of Books"

James Raven is Professor of Modern History at University of Essex.

He applied the "page 69 test" to his new book, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade 1450-1850s, and reported the following:
Page 69 offers characteristic themes from the early part of my Business of Books, a new one-volume history of booksellers and the booktrade in England from the mid fifteenth century (and the introduction of printing) to the mid nineteenth century. Publishing and bookselling was a high-risk business, not just in economic terms (where huge gambles had to be taken on the market place, just like today) but also (unlike today - at least in the civilised world) in terms of personal safety. P 69 considers the Tyburn hanging of the printers and booksellers Peter Bulloch and James Duckett, despite the latter turning state’s evidence, for selling and circulating books deemed subversive to State and Church. But some of these brave and bloody-minded individuals survived – and contributed to the far-reaching and fast-changing debate about religion and politics in pre-Civil War England. We learn on p. 69 of the triumph of the Puritan-sympathising William Waldegrave, who, despite being pursued across the country for his treasonable publications, eventually found relief on the accession of James I. Rivalry within the book trade was increasing and the potential profits from lucrative monopolies to print, granted by the Crown, became huge. Page 69 also opens my account of these ‘privileges’ and the tussle between members of the trade – a theme that looms large, in various guises for the next 300 years of the book trade in England and for the remainder of my book.
Visit the Yale University Press website to learn more about The Business of Books.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue