What was published in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic?

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Abstract

The seventeenth-century Dutch Republic was a highly literate society. The Dutch produced, and consumed, more printed items per head than any other people in Europe. Books were imported from all the major European centres of production, and exported to markets the Dutch soon came to dominate. In the seventeenth century Amsterdam was already ‘the bookshop of the world’. Yet there has never previously been an attempt to estimate the full extent of print production undertaken by the Dutch printing industry. Building on the foundations of the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN), we undertake such a systematic evaluation here, beginning with classes of print excluded from the terms of reference of the STCN, such as broadsheets, newspapers and printed diplomatic despatches. We then assess how many books will be located in libraries abroad not included in the STCN survey. In a methodological innovation, we also attempt to reconstruct the population of books known to have been printed, but not found in libraries today: ‘lost books’ identified in auction catalogues, publishers’ stock catalogues and newspaper advertisements. Finally we integrate information from archival resources, which helps us offer a survey of the total output of two genres of print extremely susceptible to loss, government ordinances and printing for universities. In total, we postulate that, at a conservative estimate, Dutch printing houses published at least 357,500 editions: over five times the number registered in the STCN. This higher figure should be the starting point for any attempt to examine the economic structures of the print trade, and the impact of print on Dutch society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalLivre. Revue Historique
Volume2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2018

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