How Books Came To America: The Rise Of The American Book Trade

Paperback | December 12, 2013

byJohn Hruschka

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Anyone who pays attention to the popular press knows that the new media will soon make books obsolete. But predicting the imminent demise of the book is nothing new. At the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, some critics predicted that the electro-mechanical phonograph would soon make books obsolete. Still, despite the challenges of a century and a half of new media, books remain popular, with Americans purchasing more than eight million books each day. In How Books Came to America, John Hruschka traces the development of the American book trade from the moment of European contact with the Americas, through the growth of regional book trades in the early English colonial cities, to the more or less unified national book trade that emerged after the American Civil War and flourished in the twentieth century. He examines the variety of technological, historical, cultural, political, and personal forces that shaped the American book trade, paying particular attention to the contributions of the German bookseller Frederick Leypoldt and his journal, Publishers Weekly.

Unlike many studies of the book business, How Books Came to America is more concerned with business than it is with books. Its focus is on how books are manufactured and sold, rather than how they are written and read. It is, nevertheless, the story of the people who created and influenced the book business in the colonies and the United States. Famous names in the American book trade—Benjamin Franklin, Robert Hoe, the Harpers, Henry Holt, and Melvil Dewey—are joined by more obscure names like Joseph Glover, Conrad Beissel, and the aforementioned Frederick Leypoldt. Together, they made the American book trade the unique commercial institution it is today.

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Anyone who pays attention to the popular press knows that the new media will soon make books obsolete. But predicting the imminent demise of the book is nothing new. At the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, some critics predicted that the electro-mechanical phonograph would soon make books obsolete. Still, despite the ch...

John Hruschka is Assistant Professor of English at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.56 inPublished:December 12, 2013Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271050829

ISBN - 13:9780271050829

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations

1 Creating New Worlds

2 Inventing America in the English Book Trade

3 Creating Book Trades in English America

4 Creating German Books in the New World

5 Re-creating the London Book Trade in the United States

6 Revolutions in American Book Production Technology

7 Transplanting the German Book Trade to the United States

8 The Evolution of the American Book Business

9 Becoming a German Bookseller in the United States

10 Creating a German Bookstore in Philadelphia

11 The Evolution of an American Publisher

12 Creating an Independent American Publisher

13 Imposing Order on the American Book Trade

14 Creating the Office of Publishers’ Weekly

15 Celebrating the Book Trade in the New World

16 The End of the Beginning

17 Inventing the Future American Book Trade

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

“This well-researched title will attract literary historians, particularly fans of early American history because of the connections Hruschka makes between British literature and the mindset of the New World settlers. . . . The book will also appeal to readers whose careers touch the book industry intimately; it will engage publishers and printers with its discussion of early copyright and book manufacturing technologies. Librarians will also be attracted by the story surrounding some of their own core trade publications, including Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.”—Angela Colmenares, Journal of American Culture