This revised, restructured and thoroughly updated edition of a classic text covers six centuries of publishing in Britain, from before the invention of the printing press to the electronic era.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the publishing industry is being transformed by new technologies. Over 500 years ago, book production was revolutionised by an earlier new technology - the printing press and moveable type. A whole new industry grew out of this invention, an industry in which books were mass-produced for the first time. By the end of the 15th century printed books had largely ousted manuscripts in the commercial book trade; their predominance as an information medium was not seriously challenged until after the turn of the twentieth century, and even then only at the margins. The printed book became one of the symbols of Western culture.
In this book, John Feather considers not only the publishing industry itself, but also areas affecting and affected by it, from education, politics, technology and law, to religion, custom and class. He traces the history of the publishing of books in Britain, looking at how they were financed, produced and distributed. The key player in this complex process was always the publisher, although the person or firm which performed that function has undergone many changes of both name and substance since Caxton set up his press in Westminster Abbey. The successors of the small tradesman who produced books in early modern England are the great global corporations which dominate the media today. This book explains how that transformation has happened.
In this radically reworked second edition, John Feather places Britain, and her industries, firmly in the global marketplace. With transatlantic competition and co-operation now standard, and with books marketed across the world via internet stores, Feather concludes by asking, how British is British publishing?