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By John Feather

This complete background (first released in 1987) covers the entire interval during which books were published in Britain. even though Gutenberg had the sting over Caxton, England quick tested itself within the vanguard of the overseas e-book alternate. The gradual means of copying manuscripts gave option to an more and more refined alternate within the revealed notice which introduced unique literature, translations, broadsheets and chapbooks or even the Bible in the purview of an more and more vast slice of society. robust political forces persisted to regulate the booklet exchange for hundreds of years prior to the main of freedom of opinion used to be validated. within the 19th and early 20th centuries the contest from pirated united states variants - the place there have been no copyright legislation - supplied a robust possibility to the alternate. this era additionally observed the increase of remaindering, reasonable literature, and plenty of different 'modern' beneficial properties of the alternate. the writer surveys some of these advancements, bringing his historical past as much as the current age.

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Beneath them, however, was a growing class of journeymen who could never aspire to a Master Printer’s place, or 38 THE FOUNDATION OF AN INDUSTRY perhaps even to the Livery. 54 The bulk of the actual production capacity could be readily absorbed by the growing, but still modest, demand for printing; the pool of trained labour could not. The Master Printers were binding and freeing apprentices at a rate which was flooding the market. In 1580, 14 men were made free of the company, and ten years later there were 15.

30 By the end of the sixteenth century literature, in the broadest sense, had become a commercial commodity. The rewards of that commerce, however, were for the printer, publisher and bookseller rather than for the author. This is not entirely surprising, for it was the printer who had taken the medieval book out of the scriptorium and into the marketplace. The economic realities of printing, and of the sale of printed books, meant that it was the publisher who was financing the production and distribution of books, and that it was therefore he who principally reaped the benefits when profit was generated.

18 The hatred of monopolies and monopolists had perhaps been the most important single factor in creating the opposition to Charles I, and it was inevitable that the Stationers’ Company, as a very visible monopolist, should suffer in the general assault. The newly recognised importance of the printed word merely exacerbated the radical attack. Throughout the war, the Court of Assistants complained bitterly to Parliament of the chaos in the trade, but Parliament was unable, even had it been willing, to take any realistic measures.

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