Books, Books, Books…

About Bookselling

Distribution and retail end of publishing process as well as commercial book trading is regarded to be bookselling. Bookmen or booksellers as they are known as are people who are involved in bookselling. It was in 300 BC that libraries were founded, which had become popular with booksellers of Athens. Having a library, became a fashion towards end of republic in Rome, with trade flourishing among Roman booksellers.

There was natural demand for Gospel copies along with other sacred books with Christianity missionaries spreading across the globe. It also included devotional volumes for private and church use. With printing being introduced, modern bookselling methods became quite prevalent. The Low Countries during the 16th – 17th centuries became bookselling world’s key centre. Computer further has enhanced and dramatically changed the way books are sold in the market. These days, one can come across sites like ebay, Amazon and big book distributors offering affiliate programs. Presently, it is the small entrepreneur who is in charge of book selling.

Continuation of History

Islamic bookshops

In the west Caliphate of Cordoba and in the east Abbasid Caliphate had encouraged immensely bookshop development as well as book dealers and copyists throughout the Muslim world and Islamic cities like Cordoba, Baghdad and Damascus. Encyclopedia Britannica states that plenty of hours were spent by students and scholars in the bookshops verifying, studying books available or purchasing their favorite titles, so that they can decorate their personal collection. Famous bookstores were visited often by book dealers who were eager to have rare manuscripts and to have them resold to scholars and collectors, contributing to spread of learning. Many famous Muslim scholars like Al-Farabi, Al-ghazali and Avicenna were known to have such manuscripts in their private collection.

French booksellers

It was in 1810 that a system was created by Napoleon a license (brevet) had to be applied by a would-be bookseller, to supply four confirmations of professional ability for performing the job and four references to testify his morality. The local mayor had to certify all references. A loyalty oath had to be taken by the booksellers if application gets accepted. To ensure that new bookstore does not become center of rebellious publications, the application procedure was put into place by the regime until 1870.


Stationers and scribes were known to sell books by forming guilds, before printing was introduced and reformation. Stations were built against cathedral walls by few stationers.

Modern bookselling

Right after the advent of printing, modern bookselling is said to have taken place. Booksellers and editors were the earliest printers. However, being unable to sell every printed copy work, they had to have agents at most learning seats like Antony Koburger, who in 1470 had introduced printing art into Nuremberg.

In England, great demand were created for books under Edward VI and Henry VIII, but free press was not tolerated by Stuart or Tudor dynasties, and hence efforts were taken to curb it.

It was in 1529 that the first patent was granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Berthlet. Then possession or purchase of unlicensed book was regarded to be a punishable offense. Company of Stationers was incorporated in 1556. But with computer being introduced, the modern book selling methods changed dramatically. Affiliate programs are being offered by major sites and book sales are being placed in hands of small entrepreneurs. They are popularly termed as micro niche sites, which specialize in selling specific product through affiliate program.

Publishing and selling

Later, gradual distinction was made between publishers, who were involved in book production from manuscripts of authors and being the intermediaries between bookseller and the author. Main trade of the booksellers was to sell books, be it wholesale or retail, while being intermediaries between public, publisher and the author.

The modern era

Bookstores could be part of local independent or chain of bookstores and vary in size, thereby offering titles in few hundred to several hundred thousand. The modern bookstores could range from internet only stores or brick and mortar ones, or even a combination. Larger bookstores generally exceed half million titles. Besides books other printed matter are often sold by bookstores like maps, magazines and newspapers. Additional product lines might vary especially among independent bookstores. Campus based bookstores are found in universities and colleges focusing on offering scholarly books and course textbooks.

Second hand bookshop or used bookstore is another bookstore that is quite common and deals with out-of-print and used book buying and selling. Such bookstores are said to offer a whole range of titles, which includes both out of print and in print books. Used book stores are often frequented by book collectors. One can buy books from large online bookstores. Individual’s eager sell of their used books may agree to outlined terms of the bookstore, like paying online bookstore, predetermined commission as books get sold. The Bouquinistes in Paris are regarded to be use used booksellers and antiquarian having boxes and outdoor stalls along Seine’s both sides for more than hundreds of years and being regulated by law since 1850s, therefore, contributing towards the city’s scenic ambience.

Roman and Greek booksellers

The prophet in Jeremiah’s book is represented as dictating the scribe to Barunch. Such scribes were termed to be the earliest sellers of books, while supplying demanded copies. An extensive library was possessed by Aristotle, while Plato had paid 100 minae, a huge sum for 3 small treatises of Pythogorean and Philolaus. In 300 BC, when Alexandrian library was developed, for procuring books, different expedients were used, thereby helping Athenian booksellers to be stimulated. While Romans, towards end of republic found having library within their home to become a fashionable thing. Flourishing trade was enjoyed by Roman booksellers, with their shops called taberna librarii being in Argiletum and in Vicus Sandalarius. Book list for sale were generally on side posts or on the door. The Sosii were great booksellers during Augustus period. Modern copyright law might have had its beginning with Justinian passing a law granting scribes with ownership of material written by them.