Between State and Market

BookBetween State and Market

Between State and Market

Printing and bookselling in eighteenth-century France

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2007:05


May 25th, 2007

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How did print spread through France to become a major force during the eighteenth century? This question has remained unanswered because we know surprisingly little about the infrastructure of the book trade. Between state and market: printing and bookselling in eighteenth-century France explores the networks of printers and booksellers that covered eighteenth-century France, situating these key cultural intermediaries within their political and socio-economic environments.
To draw an overview of printing and bookselling, and to chart their evolution across the century, the author analyzes a series of administrative surveys conducted between 1700 and 1777 by the Direction de la librairie. The hundreds of reports the central administration gathered on every printing shop and bookseller in the kingdom reveal not only where book professionals could be found and who they were, but what materials they were printing and what books they were selling.
Survey responses also show that book policing was deficient in most of the provinces, allowing pirated and forbidden books to pour into the kingdom from nearby foreign presses. Unable to control the circulation of books, the administration resorted to an austere Colbertist policy to restrict the number of printing shops. State intervention brought a decline in provincial book publishing, but printers could still thrive on job printing, local-interest publications and pirating. By contrast, the central administration let booksellers of all kinds proliferate, particularly in the second half of the century. Better suited than traditional printer-booksellers to supply whatever books readers wanted, retail booksellers cashed in on a booming market demand.
Examining the booktrade from each provincial city upwards, the author tracks the intricate web of relations between state, market, local institutions and book professionals that shaped the diffusion of print, and thereby the development of French literature and the experience of everyday readers.

'[...] a clearly focused and disciplined study that opens up a much-debated field for fresh scrutiny that is not afraid to state where new and further research is needed.'

'Readers in these fields [book history and pre-Revolutionary French cultural history] will certainly appreciate the careful reconstruction of the organization and practice of the book trade at a key historical conjuncture.'
Journal of Modern History

'A great many scholars have worked on the book trade under the Old Regime, including such eminent historians as Robert Darnton and Roger Chartier, but Rigogne’s study is the first one to offer a comprehensive, detailed, and empirically grounded view of the book trade throughout the French provinces at the height of the Enlightenment. Exquisitely detailed and backed up by an abundance of statistical data, Rigogne’s study exposes the yawning gap between royal policies on paper and their implementation in the provinces. It represents a major contribution to the scholarship on both Old Regime France and the history of the book.'
- American Historical Review

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of tables8
List of figures9
List of illustrations10
List of maps11
List of abbreviations14
1. Surveying the book trade27
i. Sartine’s comprehensive ‘Tableau général de la librairie’29
ii. Forms, surveys and bureaucracy36
iii. Surveying the book trade40
iv. Surveys in context48
2. Policing the book trade: the system and its failures55
i. Inspecting printing shops and bookstores57
ii. Examining incoming books60
iii. The failure of the Code de la librairie66
iv. Structural inefficiencies74
3. Local administration: corporate bodies, urban institutions and state agents84
i. Urban institutions and local policing84
ii. Guilds and the failure of self-policing87
iii. Urban politics95
iv. The royal administration and the search for local relays106
4. The concentration of printing117
i. Three key decrees and their implementation120
ii. Cutting down the number of printing shops129
iii. Curbing the proliferation of small centres136
iv. Concentration and centralisation of presses146
v. Overcapacity and the myth of provincial decline151
vi. Workforce concentration158
5. Booksellers: the rise of the bookstore165
i. Regulations and boundaries of the book trade165
ii. Royal policy on bookselling175
iii. The diverging paths of bookselling and printing182
iv. The fall and rise of the provincial bookstore190
v. Printer-booksellers at the crossroads193
6. Print markets203
i. Institutions and readers203
ii. Market segments212
iii. Commercial networks and the geography of the book trade220
Appendix 1: Surveys of the book trade (1700-1784)242
Appendix 2: Acquits à caution246
Appendix 3: Verifications and modifications to 1764 survey results249
Appendix 4: Core group259