The Economics of the Novel in Britain, 1750-1836

VanHoose, Michael, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Stauffer, Andrew, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Suarez, Michael, PV-Book Arts Press, University of Virginia
Pasanek, Brad, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Thomas, Mark, University of Virginia

This dissertation uses the British fiction market as a case study to investigate the responses of commercial publishers to the onset of the Industrial Revolution. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth century bore witness to a slew of changes to the British economy: unprecedented population growth, the introduction of new manufacturing technologies such as the Fourdrinier papermaking machine, and the intensification of income inequality stemming from an increasingly capital-intensive inequality. By the early nineteenth century, fiction publishers found themselves caught in tension between a rapidly growing but highly stratified customer base on the one hand, and limits to market scope set by the uneven adoption of new technologies on the other. In order to negotiate these challenges, publishers responded to the rising demand for fiction not by increasing the quantity of new novels, but by raising their prices. This strategy ensured that most novels were likely to be profitable even if sales were modest, but it also obliged publishers to rely on collusive arrangements to quash competition among retail booksellers.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
fiction publishing, book trade history, book history, bibiography, history of the novel, British Romanticism, economic history, British paper industry, papermaking machines, Industrial Revolution, inequality, material culture
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