On Frankfurt

October 15th, 2007 · 1 Comment
by Kassia Krozser

It is however a neat lesson in how the book fair works: for as long as people have written books, people have sold them too, and this involves a certain amount of talking things up. Erasmus, in the 15th century, is said to have drummed up business here (the fair’s been going for 800-odd years) by claiming the first print run of his Colloquies was 24,000. And this in an age when the average number of copies produced was around 50.

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1 response so far ↓

  • Gillian Spraggs // Oct 15, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I don’t know precisely how inaccurate her picture of present-day publishing is, but her history is pretty unreliable. Erasmus’s Colloquies is not a work of theology but a collection of Latin dialogues, which was widely used as a school text for pupils beginning Latin. I’ve no idea how many copies it sold, or whether Erasmus misrepresented the figures, but I imagine a lot of units were shifted: it’s normally the case with standard textbooks.

    As for The Lord of the Rings – it was neither published by Faber nor found in a slush pile. It began life when the publisher Stanley Unwin solicited a sequel to The Hobbit.