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Renaud Milazzo, In the mind of a publisher. Establishing the price of emblem books in Antwerp in the sixteenth century (gratis PDF)

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In the mind of a publisher. Establishing the price of emblem books in Antwerp in the sixteenth century

Renaud Milazzo  in De Gulden Passer, vol. 98 (2020), nr. 2, pp. 183–202

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Beschrijving

When it came to setting the selling price of a book, Christopher Plantin took into account a number of factors specific to sixteenth-century entrepreneurs. To gain an understanding of how Plantin proceeded, the present essay offers an analysis of the selling prices of emblem books printed by Plantin’s press between 1564 and 1589. In addition to the consulting of Plantin’s daily journals and business correspondence, this investigation is based primarily on two sources, both kept at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp. The first, the Grootboek or Master Ledger of 1563–1567, provides a wealth of information on Plantin’s costs for producing just under two hundred titles. The second, the manuscript M 296, contains a list of more than twenty thousand titles printed in Europe, in most cases with their market price recorded in various local currencies. The first part of this study asks what factors Christopher Plantin took into consideration when determining the selling price of his various emblem books, which in some cases were illustrated with woodcuts, in other cases copper engravings. The second seeks to determine Plantin’s break-even point for sales of the emblem books at their selling prices. Finally the last section considers various other factors within the economy of the period, such as that of his press’s reputation, which would have also exerted an influence on Plantin’s pricing of his books.

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