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

xylographic printing

Definition: 1. printing process used in the 15th century for books in which text and image are cut out of a block of wood and are printed from that block;. 2. impression made according to this process.

printing houses

Definition: establishment or firm where books are printed.

art of printing

Definition: the art of reproducing written texts by means of movable type as it was applied for the first time in the middle of the 15th century in Europe.

printing on demand

Definition: printing publications on demand by means of a high-grade laser printer instead of a printing press. Makes it possible to produce small print runs at a relatively low price.

intaglio printing

Definition: printing technique whereby the image is cut or etched in the forme (plate or cylinder), inked and transferred to the paper by pressing it forcefully against the forme.

printing capacity

Definition: production capacity of a printing house or printing press, measured in the number of printed sheets per time unit

printing ink

Definition: sticky substance, containing pigment, used in printing the forme.

printing houses

Definition: establishment or undertaking where printing takes place.

printing- publishing houses

Definition: establishment of a printer-publisher.

printing establishment

Definition: 1. printing office. 2. general term for all establishments and institutions which play a role in the production of printed matter.

printing materials

Definition: collective term for all material needed in the production of printed matter, machines as well as tools and raw material.

printing presses

Definition: 1. general term for a device or machine for the printing of books, plates, etc. 2. the whole of the activities carried out in the printing and distribution of texts.

automatic printing presses

Definition: apparatus or machine for printing books, plates, etc., automatically operating, i. e. not driven by human power.

printing process

Definition: collective term for all activities necessary in the production of printed paper.

printing techniques

Definition: collective term for the various technical procedures (letterpress, intaglio, planographic printing, screen print, foil print) used to transfer or multiply text and/or image on to paper or other material.

printing sheets

Definition: the printed sheet as it is produced on the printing press, to distinguish it from a folding sheet.

letterpress printing

Definition: printing process whereby the inked parts of the forme are raised above the non-printing ones.

printing privileges

Definition: right for the protection of printers and publishers against the illegal reproduction of printed matter before the introduction of the modern copyright.

newspaper printing offices

Definition: office or company where newspapers are printed.

printing types

Definition: metal stick with on it the raised image of a letter, figure or symbol, with which printing can be done in relief.

collotype printing shops

Definition: printing shop where printed matter is produced by means of the collotype process.

music printing

Definition: printing musical works; generally executed with one of the following techniques: letterpress, lithography or photolithography.

copperplate printing

Definition: printing process in which a copperplate press is used.

rotary printing

Definition: printing process where use is made of a rotary press.

printing the white

Definition: 1. first printing of a sheet whereby the front is printed. 2. printed front of a sheet.

planographic printing

Definition: printing process with a flat forme (stone or metal plate) on which by a process involving chemicals the image to be printed holds the printing ink, while its surrounding area rejects it.

screen printing (1) screen print(2)

Definition: 1. printing technique whereby the ink is pressed by a squeegee through a fine-meshed textile or metal screen in which a stencil has been put. 2. print made by this procedure.