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Steam-Powered KnowledgeWilliam Chambers and the Business of Publishing, 1820-1860$
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Aileen Fyfe

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226276519

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226276540.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 11 April 2021

Getting to Know the American Market

Getting to Know the American Market

(p.187) 15 Getting to Know the American Market
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University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses the American market for book selling. The high levels of literacy and education that impressed William Chambers were not universal. Chambers was stunned that there was so much cheap print, that it was so widely available, and that it was treated as a perfectly normal phenomenon in America. He was convinced that the United States could be an important market for the Chambers' publications, although W. & R. Chambers would need to learn how to operate in a very different commercial context. The orientation of the American trade toward reprints explains why contemporary commentators routinely remarked on the cheapness of American books. Fierce commercial competition allowed the American readers to enjoy prices for reprints far below those imaginable in Britain. Despite the differences in their context and their strategies, W. & R. Chambers had in common with the American trade an admiration and enthusiasm for new technologies.

Keywords:   book selling, American market, William Chambers, American trade, print, American books

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