Newly Peer-Reviewed: The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, 1769-1794

Congratulations to Drs. Simon Burrows, Mark Curran, Vincent Hiribarren, Sarah Kittau (designer), Henry Merivale (designer), and the team at The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe for the project’s successful peer review and aggregation with 18thConnect. We’d like to offer FBTEE our most sincere welcome to the 18thConnect community as one of our first fully-reviewed and aggregated digital projects, an accomplishment that is much deserved.

The resource, which has been gaining scholarly attention since June 2012, uses database technology to permit the examination and visualization of the book trade from 1769-1794. Based on the records of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel (STN), it amalgamates information on 2,895 clients, over 413,000 sales of almost 4,000 editions, and represents over 70,000 transactions in time and space. By using the records of a historically significant Swiss publishing house, and combining information on authors, editions, trade routes, book buyers, and book sellers, FBTEE enables the exploration of larger trends in the book trade and the spread of Enlightenment ideas across Europe. One of our anonymous peer-reviewers has allowed us to quote the below conclusion, which we feel communicates the 18thConnect team’s response to the project.

The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe is an extraordinary project, offering an unprecedented database and set of tools for the examination of the French book trade in the second half of the 18th century. It is, moreover, an exemplar of what a well researched and crafted database can offer, and, by granting access to the entire database, a model of how scholars in the digital age should collaborate. I concur wholly with Robert Darnton’s declaration that the FBTEE is “a prodigious accomplishment and a joy to use.”


18thConnect eagerly looks forward to future developments of the French Book Trade project; the principal investigator, Simon Burrows, has been awarded funding from his home institution, the University of Western Sydney.

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We hope our 18thConnect community will enjoy exploring FBTEE data in our interface, but we also encourage users to head over to the project site. We especially recommend the database totals graph, where data is broken down by year and geographic zone to show the breadth of information and interpretive possibilities of this project.




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The map visualization tool (pictured on the left, visualizing the sales destinations for the Belles Lettres classification) is a dynamic, user-friendly way to interact with the FBTEE data, as well.


Browse, search, and discuss the project using the 18thConnect faceted search, or head over to their site to explore the records and maps (or even download the data!).




Read more about the French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, 1769-1794 in Robert Darton’s review, Sean Takats review, or Dr. Mark Curran’s peer-reviewed article on the resource (The Historical Journal 56.1 [2013]: 89-112).

For a full bibliography and up to date news and reviews of the French Book Trade project see the project blog.