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'Mechanic' to the book trade: Joseph Whitaker and information services in the Victorian book trade

Calder, Rachel; (2021) 'Mechanic' to the book trade: Joseph Whitaker and information services in the Victorian book trade. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Joseph Whitaker is best remembered today as the originator of Whitaker’s Almanack but he should also be recognised as one of the most important publishers of the mid- and late- Victorian period and the creator of an information system that transformed the book trade into a modern industry. As editor of a trade journal and catalogue aimed at supporting the bookselling trade, respectively The Bookseller and The Reference Catalogue of Current Literature, he had a panoramic view of trade activities and of the commercial and structural forces that governed them. By gathering, organising and disseminating information he considered most valuable for these traders and encouraging them to participate in discussions and debates about the issues that affected their livelihoods, Whitaker helped booksellers grasp the opportunities of the growing demand for books and mitigate the risks to their businesses. A close and systematic examination of The Bookseller and The Reference Catalogue offers new perspectives on the operations of the Victorian book trade and insights into the practices and experiences of ordinary booksellers whose voices are usually silent in the historical record. Using historical analysis and conceptualising the book trade as a supply chain of competing traders rather than a coherent community, the thesis argues that Whitaker’s publications were more than just sources of information. They were the key elements in an information service devised initially to support booksellers but that became the foundations of a communication system for the whole book trade that remain at the heart of the contemporary publishing industry to this day.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: 'Mechanic' to the book trade: Joseph Whitaker and information services in the Victorian book trade
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10141490
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