From the earliest times, booksellers sprang up with mushroom uncertainty and irregularity, and, again like fungoid growth, they passed into nothingness. In many instances their very names are buried in the depths of obscurity, and no amount of delving amid the strata of literary rubbish will bring them to the surface. – from Chapter IV, “Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century,” in The Earlier History of English Bookselling, by William Roberts, originally published in 1889 and reprinted in 1967
‘...The Countess of Anjou paid for a copy of the Homilies of Haimon, Bishop of Halberstadt, two hundred sheep, five quarters of wheat, and the same quantity of rye and millet.’ - Histoire Littéraire de la France par des réligieux Bénédictins, quoted in Roberts (from Robertson)
The war between the bookseller and the author almost synchronized with the introduction of printing; and it still goes merrily on! [Remember that this was written in the late 19th century.] They appear to agree only in regarding their interests as antagonistic.
It is but a thriftless and a thankless occupation, this writing of books: a man were better to sit singing in a cobbler’s shop, for his pay is certain a penny a patch! but a book-writer, if he get sometimes a few commendations of the judicious, he shall be sure to reap a thousand reproaches of the malicious.
In the history of the whole world no movement can be pointed at whose inception involved so many issues, or whose importance has proved so universal and so enduring, as the history of books, which is practically the history of human thought himself. – William Roberts, 1889