Chapter : 5. Novels, Society & History

The publishing market

(a) The publishing market :
(i) For a long time the publishing market excluded the poor. Initially, novels did not come cheap. But soon, people had easier access to books with the introduction of circulating libraries in 1740. Technological improvements in printing brought down the prices of books and innovations in marketing led to expanded sales. In France, publishers found that they could make super profits by hiring out novels by the hour.
(ii) There were several reasons for novel's popularity. The worlds created by novels were absorbing and believable, and seemingly real. While reading novels, the reader was transported to another person's world and began looking at life as it was experienced by the characters of the novel. Besides, novel allowed individuals the pleasure of reading in private, as well as the joy of publicly reading or discussing stories with friends or relatives.
(iii) In 1836 a notable event took place when Charles Dicken's "Pickwick Papers" was serialized in a magazine. Magazines were attractive since they were illustrated and cheap. Serialization allowed readers to relish the suspense, discuss the characters of a novel and live for weeks with their stories – like viewers of television soaps today.

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