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London and the central sites of the English book trade

Raven, J (2009) 'London and the central sites of the English book trade.' In: UNSPECIFIED, (ed.) The Cambridge: History of the Book in Britain Volume 5 1695-1830. UNSPECIFIED, 293 - 308. ISBN 9780521810173

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New building schemes, new commercial agendas and new trading practices reshaped the topography of the London book trade between 1695 and 1830. Fixed sites of sale increasingly replaced (but by no means completely supplanted) itinerant traders supplied by cheap book depots. Greater book-trade concentrations in particular streets and precincts supported new trade specializations. Bookshops, printing houses and subscription and commercial libraries followed developers and builders as fashionable London devoured the fields to the west and north of the City. As is often the case, change, especially rapid change, also highlighted continuities and encouraged the exploitation of tradition. Mapping the location of printers, booksellers and allied businesses deepens our understanding of the commercial and cultural orientation of the book trade between the late seventeenth and the mid-nineteenth centuries. As the following seeks to demonstrate, the business of publishing and bookselling, characterized by increasing diversity and a steady expansion of production, was closely allied to the transformation of London during this period. From a relatively modest European capital city, London became an imperial metropolis. The compact clusters of streets and public spaces within the medieval walls turned into the nucleus of a sprawling conglomerate of different neighbourhoods. The practical (if not administrative) fusion of London, Westminster and Southwark during the eighteenth century stretched from the elegance of western and northern squares to the wharves and squalor of the East End, to the workshops and market gardens south of the Thames. By means of its products – and notably by books and periodicals – London was highly visible to the country at large. Commentators acclaimed the flow of goods in and out of the city as a marvel of the age. As John Macky noted in the 1720s, London boasted open gates rather than being encircled by continental-style bastions.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2011 13:38
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2021 10:15

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