This chapter begins with a discussion of the dearth studies on the commercial development of the late 18th-century book trade. Little is known either about literary perceptions of trade and industry during the years of commercial and industrial expansion in the late 18th century, or about the means by which such opinion was established. The poverty of research on the literary response is the more telling because of the changes in the commercial orientation of the book business. It argues that historical appreciation of the new fiction industry of the period was thwarted by both contemporary and modern disdain for an output that undeniably included many formula-written potboilers. Very soon after birth, the mass fiction and popular literature trade was denounced from journal and pulpit as seditious and immoral and as debasing civilized society. The chapter also presents publishing trends in the late 18th century.
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