4.2.10: 1830 - 1910 - Financing, print-runs and prices

Although editions 'for the account of the author' did occur, nearly all books and periodicals were financed and brought onto the market at the risk of publisher-booksellers. A small percentage was pre-financed by means of subscriptions; publishers also addressed themselves to the king for a contribution, or published books 'for free' (as a premium). The net price of a book was determined by 1. fee, 2. typesetting, correction, illustration, printing and paper, 3. stitching or binding, 4. promotional costs for publicity, advertisement, prospectuses and the like and 5. operating costs. The greater part of the costs consisted initially of the costs price of paper. Illustrations (such as copper engravings) were generally expensive. Later in this period, the author's or translator's fee became a cost item of significance.

Thus the production costs in 1810 of the children's book by C.F.W. Jacobs, Alwin en Theodoor (134 pp.) were 323 guilders (about € 127.-) which included 70 guilders (about € 32.-) for typesetting and printing (21.7%), 44 guilders (about € 20.- ) for paper (13.6%), 122.60 guilders (about € 56.-) for engraving illustrations (37.9%) and 42,50 guilders guilders (about € 19.-) for the translator's fee (13.2%). In 1869 the total costs for De familie Guldenarm (195 pp.) by Agatha amounted to 381,62 guilders(about € 173.-), including for typesetting and printing 65.70 guilders (17.3%: i.e. 44.10 guilders (€ 20,-), for typesetting and 21.60 guilders (€ 10.-) for printing), paper 82 guilders (21.4%; about € 37.-) and author's fee 120 guilders (31.4%; about € 54.-).

The net price per copy also included the profit for the publisher. Net price and rebate (profit for the retail dealer) made up the sales price for the individual customer.

Depending on the nature of the work, print-runs were relatively low initially (500-1000), with the exception of so-called 'steady sellers' such as popular schoolbooks (2000-3000 per print-run), with a total number of copies as high as 10,000 or more. Scientific or scholarly works and most novels were generally not printed in large numbers (500-750), but when a work became popular or the publisher brought out a cheaper edition (for example in a series or in a smaller format), the number of copies could increase to a couple of thousand per impression.

In the second half of the century the number of titles produced increased, but the average print-run does not seem to increase drastically, apart from a few exceptions. This period showed a rise in the print-runs of republished titles intended for a less well-to-do and general public: Gedichten by De Schoolmeester/Gerrit van de Linde (7000), Werken by P.A. de Genestet (15,000). The number of copies printed of literary series showed a very irregular pattern, depending on target group and price, and varied from 600 (Polycolor) to 10,000 (50 cents edition), individual titles achieved even higher print-run numbers.

With regard to (daily and weekly) papers, the abolition of the newspaper stamp marks the economic liberation of the press from the heavy tax yoke, resulting not only in a strong increase in the number of newspapers, but also in a strong increase of print-runs. Between 1870 and 1892 the circulation of Het nieuws van den dag rose from 5220 to 37,000 copies. The financing gradually changed as well, from a private enterprise of individual publishers (for example the Arnhemsche courant) to newspapers financed through limited liability companies. At the end of 1885 as many as 23 newspapers were published by newspaper companies. The oldest was the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche courant which was founded in 1843 by H. Nijgh and converted into a limited liability company twelve months later.

author: B.P.M. Dongelmans

Financing, print-runs and prices

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.

laid paper

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

glossy coated paper

Definition: highly-glossed paper.

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.

paper boys

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

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.

Lombardy paper

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

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.

machine-made paper

Definition: paper made using a paper machine

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.

bulky paper

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

acid-free paper

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


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.

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.

Troy paper

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

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.

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.

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.

wove paper

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