publishing, subscription

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A system by which the author collected a pre‐publication list of buyers prepared to pay for his book in advance and usually at a reduced rate. The first book known to be published by subscription was John Minsheu's lexicographical Guide into Tongues of 1617, though Caxton, in the late 15th cent., acquired promises of sales before producing his major works. The system flourished most widely in the 18th cent. Subscription publishing was still flourishing at the end of the 19th cent. and survives in a modified form in certain areas of scholarly and technical publishing.

Subjects: Literature.

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