Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Simone Chess


This dissertation examines the strategies deployed by print agents (publishers, booksellers, and printers) to create their unique niche in the marketplace. Building on scholarship that discusses how print agents shaped authorship, I argue that paratexts designed by print agents influenced the development of popular taste and even created new genres. Using contemporary marketing theory as an interpretative framework, this project traces the printing history of editions of single works in context with the careers of individual print agents. As my research demonstrates, print agents deliberately manipulated paratexts like title pages and prefaces to advertise printed books as unique investments, capable of returning profit in both knowledge and, more importantly, social capital. This project aims to question clear-cut distinctions between profit-seeking print agents and those with more literary sensitivities. As my analysis demonstrates, print agents' efforts to establish their markets not only coincided with but ultimately helped define notions of taste and literary value, and shaped a uniquely English market of readers and writers.