2.2.3: 1585 - 1725 - Relationship between publisher and author

Something is known of the relationship between publisher and author in individual cases, but it is not clear who usually determined the typographical design (what type of paper, which format, what type, how many illustrations). The question of whether publishers influenced the author's copy with respect to form or content will remain largely unanswered even though it is known that in a few cases a publisher consistently changed an author's spelling. The question of how copy was produced is also a question which, because of the small amount of copy that has survived, cannot be answered conclusively: did the author in his manuscript already account for the typographical design or was an apograph, which had to serve as copy, produced from the autograph?

Although the large number of reprints indicates otherwise, seventeenth-century publishers could not complain about lack of copy. By that time, the Republic had no fewer than five universities (Leiden, Franeker, Harderwijk, Groningen and Utrecht) which served as a source for potential authors, while a large number of foreign refugees wanted to see their texts, forbidden elsewhere, in print there.

There were therefore many different suppliers of a multitude of texts. Authors were usually not or very poorly paid, either because they spoiled the market with a large number of complimentary author's copies or because they received payment from another source (authorities, patron) or because in this period they considered it to be beneath their station to accept money for the fruit of their pens. There were also the better-paid translators, illustrators (often well-known artists such as Romeyn de Hooghe and Jan Luyken) and correctors, and - with the rise in the second half of the seventeenth century of the newspaper and journal (Spectators and scholarly journals) as a new medium - the editors and journalists who had to ensure that new editions were filled and appeared on time.

The relationship between publishers and authors was a different one from that of publisher and translator. The latter was more often commissioned by a publisher; the author usually sought a publisher himself or, if necessary, had the printing done at his own expense (in that case 'for the author' appeared on the title page), although they would often be supported, especially in case of occasional poetry, by a customer (an official body or private patron). Some authors had a regular publisher or, to put it differently, some publishers had gathered together a circle of authors and their businesses acted as a cultural meeting place where various people met. Examples of this are, among others, the artists' and printers' workshop of the Van de Venne brothers in Middelburg and the bookshop of Jacob Lescailje in Amsterdam where authors of plays, poets, translators and actors met one another.

During this period, as far as literary texts are concerned, a development from collective to individual production took place. Anonymous texts from chambers of rhetoric made way to publications with the name of the author on the title page. It also looks as though, from the second half of the seventeenth century onwards, the manufacture of literature was becoming more and more accepted as a way of making a living (possibly by way of patronage): a larger category of so-called hacks came into being. As more publishers arrived, a certain amount of specialisation took place. In addition to publishers of literature, there were those who focused on genres such as almanacs, atlases, travelogues and religious literature.

Information is available on the relationship between the major Renaissance authors and their publishers. Huygens and Vondel took more of an interest in the end result than Hooft; Bredero found a dedicated editor in his publisher, C.L. van der Plasse. Changes to the text were often made right up to the last stages of production. As no form of copyright yet existed, we find, in addition to clearly authorised texts, many unauthorised publications sometimes scraped together by publishers from whatever available source. Early seventeenth-century songbooks were often compiled from apographs obtained by a publisher. Publishers did not shrink from obtaining roles written for actors for an illegal edition either.

author: P.J. Verkruijsse

Relationship between publisher and author

marbled paper

Definition: decorated paper with a marbling effect produced by placing drops of colour on a liquid surface (the marbling size), using a marbling trough.

brocade paper

Definition: kind of decorated paper: hand-made paper, coloured with a brush on one side on which a (imitation) gold leaf decorative pattern or picture is printed.

paper boys

Definition: person who daily delivers a paper in the letterbox of readers with a subscription.

rag paper

Definition: kinds of paper that have been made entirely of rags. As soon as rags are only partly used in a kind of paper, then this is rag-content paper.

marbled paper

Definition: kind of paper used inter alia for bindings: paper on which - by a special process - a decorative pattern, which sometimes resembles marble, is created by applying a thin layer of paint of two or more colours, or paper printed with an imitation resemblingit.

laid paper

Definition: hand-made paper or (mostly) imitation hand-made paper with a fine screen of water lines.

hand-made paper

Definition: hand-made paper, laid or not, made with a mould, usually with watermark and deckle edges.

wood-pulp paper

Definition: paper containing ground wood-pulp with many small impurities, usually easily torn; cheap but not durable.

wood-free paper

Definition: paper that does not contain wood-pulp, but which is made from pure cellulose and/or cotton or linen rags. It has a beautiful colour and is durable.

Lombardy paper

Definition: name for imported paper of Italian origin, common until the end of the 17th century.

bulky paper

Definition: paper which combines great thickness with a relatively light weight (used by publishers to make small books look more voluminous).


Definition: general term for a material produced in the form of reels or sheets, formed by draining a suspension of vegetable fibres (rags, straw, wood, etc.) on a sieve and usually used, after sizing, for writing, drawing or printing; the name 'paper' is used for aweight of up to about 165 g/m2, 'cardboard' or 'board' for a higher weight.

paper finishers

Definition: workmen in a printing office who hang the damp paper up to dry on a line after it has been printed.

paper conservation

Definition: the restoring, stopping or preventing paper decay caused by acidification and wear and tear.

paper mills

Definition: industrial concern in which paper is produced on a large scale.

paper manufacturers

Definition: 1. owner, employer of a papermill. 2. producer of hand-made paper.

paper formats

Definition: dimensions of a sheet of paper.

paper wholesale businesses

Definition: company that resells large quantities of paper, supplied by producers, to printing offices and other businesses.

paper trade

Definition: economic activity of trading paper, i.e. the buying and selling of paper, as intermediary between production and consumption.

paper traders

Definition: someone whose profession is trading paper.

paper industry

Definition: collective name for all branches of industry concerned with the production of paper.

paper machines

Definition: machine with which paper is formed, pressed, dried and smoothed, from cellulose fibres and other paper ingredients. The result is turned into rolls or cut into sheets.

paper mills

Definition: water mills or windmills where the production of handmade rag paper took place. The drive mechanism of the mill was used to move the beaters loosening the rag fibres.

paper research

Definition: 1. testing paper to judge its appropriateness for a certain use. 2. analysis of paper to determine age or origin.

paper production

Definition: 1. the total of paper produced. 2. paper making.

glossy coated paper

Definition: highly-glossed paper.

kinds of paper

Definition: collective name for variants in paper, originating in the use of different raw materials, sizes and production methods.

paper splitting

Definition: in book restoration: the splitting of paper into two layers which are pasted together again after a support layer has been placed in between.

paper treaters

Definition: labourers in a printing office who wet the paper before printing, so that the ink is absorbed better.

permanent paper

Definition: alkaline paper which satisfies international standards as regards composition and physical properties, so that a durability of at least 150 years is guaranteed.

lignin-rich paper

Definition: kind of ligneous paper: lignin is an element of wood. It causes a rapid ageing of paper whose fibrous composition consists partly of lignin.

decorated paper

Definition: collective name for all sorts of decorated paper whose decoration has come into being either during the manufacturing process or by graphic or other final processing of the sheet of paper.

woodblock paper

Definition: kind of decorated paper printed by means of wooden blocks, which are frequentlyderived from cotton print-works, with a decorative pattern in one or more colours; used especially in the 18th and 19th centuries for covers, endpapers and as pasting materialfor the boards of books.

Troy paper

Definition: name for imported paper of French origin, used until the end of the 17th century.

wove paper

Definition: non-laid hand-made paper, sometimes with a watermark in the bottom edge of the paper

machine-made paper

Definition: paper made using a paper machine

acid-free paper

Definition: paper with a neutral pH value (about pH 7), mainly used in conservation and restoration.