Selling Words: An Economic History of Bookselling

  • Jaki Hawker
Open Access


A summary of the fiscal relationship between text, readers, publishers, bookshops, and legislation, this chapter argues that it is the economics of the consumer market that will shape the academic book of the future. Suggesting that demand for text intersects across a global marketplace, this chapter predicts a future in which the distinctions between physical and digital text, and Open Access and commercial publication, are so blurred as to be indistinguishable. Case studies from past, current, and future fiscal strategy illuminate the economics of reading, publishing and bookselling online and on the high street, and are used to consider a future where a marketplace governed by personal choice rather than publisher provision will determine textual form.


accessibility bookselling choice consumer demand digital text ebook economics innovation market Open Access physical book publishing reading 


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© Jaki Hawker 2016

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence and indicate if changes were made.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaki Hawker

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