A publishing monopoly in learned Europe : the Compagnie des libraires of Lyon, 1509-1562
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This thesis is an in-depth exploration of a single sixteenth-century printing firm, the Compagnie des libraires of Lyon. From their headquarters at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, the shareholders of the Compagnie managed a transnational publishing empire, focused on controlling the market for large-format legal books. Its members came from families that had their own well-established presences as merchant-publishers, providing the Compagnie with a large arsenal of funds and an extensive distribution network. The Compagnie rose to power concurrently with Lyon’s growing status in the European book world, turning sizeable profits by the 1530s. Though they were major players, not only in Lyon’s book world, but in Europe more broadly, there has been precious little work done on how the firm functioned. The first section of this study considers the Compagnie at home, investigating their finances, corporate structure, marketing, and production schedule within Lyon. It considers the particular expenses associated with publishing the expensive editions that the Compagnie invested in, alongside the surviving contracts that record specific business practices. The second section turns to a case study in the Compagnie’s distribution practices, using the Spanish market to explore how the books that the organisation published reached consumers. To answer this question, it looks at a number of bodies of evidence, including booklists, court cases, and notarial contracts that describe how the compagnons in Lyon used agents in Spain. The core throughline of the thesis is a consideration of risk and incorporation: it attempts to answer how early modern merchants understood the economic aspects of the book trade and how they protected themselves from the caprice of the early book market. A short title catalogue of about 1,500 editions published by the Compagnie between 1509 and 1562 has been provided as an appendix to the thesis. It is intended as a both a supplement to the thesis and grounds for further study of the way the firm approached law book publishing.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2023-11-05
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 6th November 2023
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