Evening programme – Thursday, 12 December 2019

  • Venue: Museum Plantin-Moretus, Vrijdagmarkt 22, 2000 Antwerp
  • Timing: 19:00
  • Doors open at 18:45, last entry at 19:10
  • Lecture in English, free entrance – registration obliged

Miræus Lecture: How did Early Modern publishers make decisions? Business insights from Christopher Plantin’s cost records

Mark McConnell, Washington, DC

Printing technology transformed the production of books in early modern times, with deep implications for the circulation of ideas. But the new technology also created a very significant business problem: publishing risk. The advantages of the new technology were available only if a publisher advanced large sums of money to print an entire edition, and accepted the risk that the copies might not sell. It is well recognized that publishing risk helped determine which books were printed, and what form those books took. But lack of data has precluded a systematic study of the question. Mark McConnell is compiling a database of the detailed cost accounts that were kept by the printer Christopher Plantin in the 1560s. These data shed considerable light on the business calculations that governed publishers’ decisions, with implications for the subject matter of books printed, the number of copies, the inclusion of illustrations, and the features that positioned a book in the marketplace, such as format, paper quality and font selection. Mr. McConnell will present preliminary insights on these questions, drawn from his ongoing research.

The Miræus Lectures are an initiative of Flanders Book Historical Society. 
Download the Miræus Lectures programme brochure (PDF, 2 MB)

For who would like to participate to the Miræus Lecture only, without attending the conference, can register using this form on the website of the Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience, Antwerp (click here).