Whether or not books were expensive in the 1800s is a topic that has been debated for a long time. However, there are some basic facts that need to be considered.
Early American novels
Typical early American novels cost between seventy-five and one hundred dollars in the late 18th century. That is four times more than a hardcover novel today.
Early American authors did not receive sufficient payment for their work. As a result, they were not paid enough to sustain a career. The literary world of the 1800s had little audience or legal protection.
The first great writers began to appear in the mid-1800s. The distribution of books in the early nineteenth century was limited to local and institutional libraries, as well as circulating libraries. These were often located in small towns.
Books were also distributed through fast ships that could sail to America in a month. By the end of the 18th century, most larger cities had at least one library.
Many early American authors wrote in a variety of genres. Some of the first American fiction writers were Charles Brockden Brown and Washington Irving. Brown wrote Gothic romances and Gothic thrillers, while Irving wrote under a pseudonym, Geoffrye Crayon.
During the early to mid 1800s, there was much going on in the realm of literature. It was a time of great political and social turmoil. This time of greatness spawned many technological innovations. One of the most notable was the paperback. It is estimated that by the mid-nineteenth century, the paperback had a market share of 50 percent, and accounted for about 20 percent of the total output of the book industry. That figure was augmented in the early decades of the twentieth century by a spate of new paperback publishers. Most major countries have at least one. In the United States, the paperback industry took a hit during the Great Depression, but it has rebounded nicely in the post-World War II era. In fact, the paperback industry may well have outsold the formerly mighty hardcover in some of the most difficult to reach regions of the country.
A slew of major paperback publishers have spawned a few more, and some even manage to produce a few new books of their own. In a nutshell, the paperback was the king of the literary world.
Piracy from Britain
During the 1800s, Britain faced a number of problems with piracy. While it did not seem to have a major impact on commercial interests, it was still a threat to maritime commerce. Among the factors that contributed to the problem was the lack of regulations, an increased number of sea lanes, and the ready availability of European-manufactured arms.
Piracy from Britain in the 1800s was an issue that both influenced and affected British foreign policy. Ultimately, anti-piracy operations took a long time to succeed. Some suggested more aggressive measures, such as wholesale killings, while others suggested a more restrained approach.
Throughout the nineteenth century, British and other European observers debated the relationship between piracy and race. They believed that certain nations, such as Arabs in North Africa, were particularly addicted to piracy. They also believed that European incursions into Southeast Asia had contributed to the long-standing decline of the indigenous polities.
One of the more prominent nineteenth-century British observers was Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. His book, The History of Java (1817), served as the foundation of British policy for the Malay Archipelago. He believed that a free trade economy would benefit the Malays, and would lead to more prosperous and advanced levels of civilization.
Organization of the book trade
During the 18th century, the organization of the book trade in the United States began to shift from booksellers to publishers. The book trade became more widespread, and book production expanded beyond national boundaries. In addition to the sale of books to individual consumers, the book trade also included the distribution of books through libraries and literary institutions. The book trade was a key part of American culture and history, and the collection of early American book trade manuscripts continues to be a central focus of all AAS collections.
The letterbook of Edward Livermore, a publisher of farming books, includes business correspondence related to the book trade. It contains accounts, detailed orders for decorative bindings and illustrations, and legal papers authorizing sales agents. In addition, the letterbook includes descriptions of upcoming publications, estimates of expenses, and projected costs. The letterbook also contains accounts of the cost of paper and printing supplies. The letterbook is a testament to the growth of the book trade during the 1800s.