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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800.

§ 36. Trade Lists of Current Publications.


The chief lists of current English books in the middle of the seventeenth century are the catalogues issued by John Rothwell and William London. It was in 1657 that the latter, a Newcastle bookseller, brought out his Catalogue of the most vendible Books in England, prefaced by an “Introduction to the use of books” from his own pen. It is significant of the prevailing taste of the time that more than two-thirds of the books in this list come under the heading divinity. Various other catalogues appeared; but there was no organised attempt to publish a regular list of new books until 1668, in which year John Starkey, a Fleet street bookseller, issued, under the title Mercurius Librarius, the first number of what are known as Term catalogues. 36  Starkey was soon joined by Robert Clavell, of the Peacock, in St. Paul’s churchyard, and, from 1670 to 1709, the list was issued quarterly under the title A Catalogue of Books continued, printed and published at London. Clavell also brought out, in 1672, A catalogue of all the Books printed in England since the Dreadful Fire, a fourth edition of which, continued to date, appeared in 1696; and publications relating to the popish plot were so numerous that he thought it worth while to issue, in 1680, a special catalogue of them. In 1714, Bernard Lintot essayed to take up the work of recording new books; but his Monthly Catalogue came to an end after eight numbers, and, again, there was a lapse, until John Wilford, in 1723, began another Monthly Catalogue, which ran for six years. From about this point, the gap is partially filled by lists of new books in the monthlies, such as The Gentleman’s Magazine, The London Magazine, The Monthly Review and The Critical Review. Advertisements of new books, especially those issued by subscription, are also to be found in newspapers, and critical notices of books begin to appear in reviews. In 1766, there was published, for the use of booksellers, A complete catalogue of modern books, published from the beginning of this century to the present time, and this was followed by several similar compilations, the most active in this field being William Bent of Paternoster row, who continued his work into the nineteenth century.   63

Note 36. Reprinted by Arber, E., 3 vols., 1903–6. For an account and bibliography of these and other catalogues, see Growoll, A., Three centuries of English booktrade bibliography, New York, 1903. [ back ]

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