Centre for the History of the Book

Volume II: Enlightenment and Expansion 1707-1800

Edited by Stephen Brown and Warren McDougall

The leading members of the book trade in 18th century Scotland were self-aware and ambitious, eager to improve, to 'make a name in the world', and to expand. By the 1740s fine editions of the classics were being printed, and a significant export trade from Glasgow to America had started. The copyright prosecutions brought by London booksellers against the Scots trade, at the Court of Session 1738-49, enabled the Scots to enunciate the social, economic and cultural benefits that would come to Scotland if they won the right to reprint English editions; their other goal was to export more books than they imported. The successful outcome (in Scottish terms) saw the expansion of the Scots trade and a spreading of reprints. Scots authors benefited from the publishing scene at home, although London proved a strong attraction.

The Scottish book was distributed to America through a variety of networks. There were links with Ireland, the English provinces, and Europe. Relations with London were multi-faceted: while the tension over reprinting continued through the century and London copyright holders prosecuted over Irish imports and Scottish editions, there was co-operation over the marketing of new Scottish books and London books, there were joint publishing ventures, and Scots printed for Londoners; Scots-born booksellers set up in London.

The story of the book in Scotland at this time will be told in case studies and longer surveys. A central theme will be readership. Topics will also include: Scottish writers, and author-publisher relationships; significant editions; leading booktrade figures; the business of printing and bookselling throughout Scotland; printing practices and personnel; editorial procedures; typefounding; binding; exports and imports, smuggling from Ireland, and trade relationships beyond Scotland; newspapers and the critical reviews; the diversity of print-from fine editions, reprints, classical texts, and original Scots work in literature, the arts, sciences and law . . . to the Scottish sermon, chapbooks and broadsides, children's books, popular religious work, Bibles and New Testaments, and Gaelic books.