Crisis or Enlightenment? Developments in the Book Trade, 1650-1750. St Andrews Book Conference, 20-22 June 2019

It has never been questioned that the European Enlightenment was made by books. The intellectual movement which swept across Europe and the Atlantic world from the end of the seventeenth century was fostered, expressed and realised by a sophisticated international market for books. Complex ventures such as Bayle’s Dictionnaire and the ever-expanding number of periodicals indicate that authors and intellectuals were keenly aware of print as a powerful tool. Yet did the book trade reciprocate this enthusiasm? How far did the book market embrace the Enlightenment, and how important were the great intellectual currents of the day to the everyday business of books?

The relationship between the nascent Enlightenment and the organisation of the book trade stands central to this conference. It will seek to expose general developments in European and Atlantic book trade practices from c. 1650-1750, coinciding roughly with the “Early Enlightenment”, in order to refine our understanding of the interplay between intellectual currents and the market for print.

The provisional programme is available here.

Registration is now open here

For further information please contact the organisers, Arthur der Weduwen ( and Ann-Marie Hansen (

The conference has been made possible by the generous sponsorship of the USTC, the School of History of the University of St Andrews and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing.