4.3.3: 1830 - 1910 - Kinds of booksellers

Although Johannes Allart is considered to be the first publisher in the modern sense of the word (i.e. without a bookshop) (1812), he does not present himself as such until the end of his career. Before that he was always, besides printer, a publisher-bookseller. This combination, however, became more and more loose, and what had occurred occasionally in the previous period became the norm in the nineteenth century. An increasing group of booksellers pur sang (retail trader or assortment bookseller) appeared, whereas the number of publisher-printers and publisher-retail traders decreased. Especially after the middle of the century, an increasing differentiation and specialisation could be observed, inspired by changes in production and distribution and by increasing competition. J.L. van der Vliet of The Hague who, in 1844, edited and published the periodical De tijd for his own account and risk, was one of the first examples of a publisher who was not also a retail traders at the same time.

The increase in the number of sales outlets, especially in the country, caused a substantial rise in the number of retail traders. The Adresboek voor den boekhandel (Book Trade Directory) of 1880 lists 1200 names, of whom only 400 show some publishing activity. The other 800 were more or less employed as retail traders. Although the phenomenon of remaindering already occurred in the eighteenth century, the second-hand trader appeared to stay in the 1860's as the buyer of the increasing flow of remaining lots from overly optimistic publishers. An example of this precursor of the remainders bookshop is the firm Gebr. E. & M. Cohen. The year 1880 marked the beginning of the incorporation of the Maatschappij Elsevier, one of the first limited liability companies which, in the twentieth century, was to become a publishing company operating on an international scale. Besides the second-hand bookseller, the bookseller-antiquarian made an appearance. If Pieter van Damme was still a rarity in the eighteenth century, Frederik Muller is regarded as the founder of the scholarly antiquarian bookshop, which even today functions as a separate professional group. Although pedlars and hawkers played a role in the distribution of printed texts from the very beginning, the door-to-door salesman was by 1840 a figure with whom the regular book trade certainly had to reckon. The publication of their own trade journal De Kolporteur reflected the increased specialisation and, at the same time, showed the divergence of the interests of the various professional groups. This became apparent in new organisational structures, outside the umbrella Vereeniging. The publishers united themselves in 1880 in the Nederlandse Uitgeversbond (Dutch Publishers Association), from 1907 onward the Nederlandsche Debitantenbond (Dutch Retailers Union) was the organisation in which the various local associations of retail trader co-operated with one another. The appearance of periodicals tailored to their own professional group illustrated once more the division between the modern publisher and the bookseller. Although De debitant (The Retailer) which had been published since 1889 went under at the beginning of 1892, in 1919 a new De debitant appeared, continued from 1924 to 1983 as De boekverkooper (The Bookseller). In 1918 the monthly De uitgever (The Publisher) started, which would last until 1976.

author: B.P.M. Dongelmans

Kinds of booksellers