This third volume of English Books and Readers, first published in 1970, carries the story of the English book trade down to the eve of the Civil War. The author gives an account of the total output of books and pamphlets in the period, irrespective of their qualities as literature.
'These three volumes represent the result of much more than the mere study of title-pages and imprints, since it is patently obvious that [the author] has read, analysed, and classified a dauntingly high proportion of the books themselves. As he points out, the annual output grew in this period from approximately 259 volumes published in 1600 to 577 in 1640. From his work we learn much about the actual contents; the different sorts of readers and what was provided for them; the relationships of writers, authorities, and members of the book trade. All this could only have been provided from a thorough knowledge sorts of readers and what was provided from a thorough knowledge of the actual books. This is its great value ... This distillation of the author's thorough acquaintance with so many books makes an excellent introduction for those embarking on detailed work in this period. From it, the student will gain not only knowledge of how the book trade functioned, but what kinds of books were written, why, and for whom, besides something of what was in them. But those with longer experience are also practically certain to meet facts and examples previously unknown to them.' Modern Language Review 'This is the third volume of a series in which a distinguished scholar has given the history of the printed book trade in Britain from its beginning in 1475 to the eve of the Civil War. The other volumes were justly acclaimed, and the highest praise must also be given to the book which now concludes the work. The title is modest indeed, since it is a survey of Britain cultural, intellectual and social interests over more than 150 years ... Although written with remarkable clarity, the book is so densely packed with information that justice could only be done to it in a very long notice. The reading, sorting, sifting and evaluating that must have gone into its production were clearly of a magnitude that must be rare in the extreme for such a relatively small volume ... This is a splendid achievement, and homage is gladly paid to the STC which made it possible and to the scholar who has so triumphantly achieved a great task.' Notes and Queries