The Culture of the Publisher’s Series, Volume One: Authors, by John Spiers (eds.)

By John Spiers (eds.)

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Example text

Timing has been important, too. And the productions themselves have had to be shaped to fit the expectations and understandings of those audiences selected or intended by the publisher in both diverse and controlled (sometimes, cartelised) markets. The ways in which publishers have 38 John Spiers sought leverage – while achieving the appropriate margin with careful controls of costs, print runs, prices, return on capital for their own survival and augmenting and preserving capital for re-investment – are one of the chief subjects of the studies presented here.

All these occurred in the lives of active and real individual people in history. These made their own interpretative decisions, which we now seek to recover and to understand. Our papers help us to improve and adjust our understandings of knowing how to use, or to read, what evidence does survive. We know we know too little about the real historical reader. Another constraint is that we do not know enough about the individuals who have worked in the various agencies of print, who have been the decision-makers, who have taken the measured chances, who have offered the books to these past readers, and what they thought of their likely reception.

Since then there has been much debate about inclusion and exclusion, and many recent correctives offered. Series help in understanding the historical conditions of knowledge itself, and the formation of the canon, and the multitudinous opportunities that larger markets offered, including those for women writers12 William St Clair has invaluably analysed the ‘old canon’ and its influences (St Clair 2004). Not all critics, however, have accepted feminist and other radical critiques and dismissed ‘the canon’ and its values.

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