A History of British Publishing by John Feather

By John Feather

This complete historical past (first released in 1987) covers the complete interval within which books were published in Britain. although Gutenberg had the sting over Caxton, England quick confirmed itself within the vanguard of the overseas ebook alternate. The sluggish means of copying manuscripts gave solution to an more and more subtle exchange within the published observe which introduced unique literature, translations, broadsheets and chapbooks or even the Bible in the purview of an more and more wide slice of society. robust political forces persisted to manage the publication exchange for hundreds of years earlier than the primary of freedom of opinion was once proven. within the 19th and early 20th centuries the contest from pirated united states versions - the place there have been no copyright legislation - supplied a robust probability to the exchange. this era additionally observed the increase of remaindering, affordable literature, and plenty of different 'modern' gains of the exchange. the writer surveys a lot of these advancements, bringing his background as much as the current age.

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These were, first, a de facto ban on printing outside London, and, secondly, the Company’s involvement in the procedures of pre-publication licensing. The ban on provincial printing was not explicit, but the Charter restricted the right of owning a press to members of the Company; by definition the freemen were citizens of London, and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were normally resident there. In practice, this had little meaning in 1557. 12 Although the provision was to be slightly modified in future years, printing was henceforth effectively confined to London until the end of the seventeenth century.

For the first time, entry in the Register was required rather than encouraged, a clear victory for the copy-owners. At the same time, penalties for printing illegal books or printing by unauthorised persons were drastically increased. Like previous regulations, and like the controversy about patents, the 1637 decree has to be seen in a broader context. The whole thrust of crown policy in the 1630s, under the direction of Laud and Strafford, was centralisation and control. Laud was concerned about the growing divisions in the Church of England and the opposition to his ecclesiastical policies.

It was impossible to make a living from writing,39 except perhaps from writing for the stage,40 but it was increasingly possible to generate some sort of income. 41 Despite the financial obstacles, and despite the contempt in which those who wrote for money were held by their more fortunate contemporaries, authorship was a recognisable occupation by the end of the sixteenth century. 42 By the middle of the sixteenth century the print revolution was visible to all who chose to see it. The transition from scriptorium to printing house was more than merely a change from one form of book production to another.

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