Library catalogues as resources for book history: case study of Novosel’s bookstore catalogue in Zagreb (1794 - 1825)

Marijana Tomić


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v1i2.128

Abstract


The aim of the paper is to analyze the book catalogue of Novosel’s bookstore, which operated in Zagreb from 1794 to 1825, and investigate the history of books and writing in Zagreb at the turn of the 19th century. The catalogue we analyzed is believed to have been published in 1801. Bearing in mind that the market-based economy started to develop in the late 18th century, it can be stipulated that Novosel and his staff and successors based the offer in their bookstore on market analysis, i.e. their readers’ needs. The increase in offer has sparked off new advertising techniques, i.e. printing of catalogues. It follows that their book catalogue reflects the image of the cultural and intellectual status and needs of readers in those times.
The paper provides a short overview of book trade in the late 18th century Zagreb and of bookstore advertisements published both in books and individually, as well as a short overview of Novosel’s bookstore business. In the analysis we partly use the methodology introduced by Robert Darnton, the so-called Darnton’s circle, which takes a holistic view of the history of books taking into consideration all stages a book needs to go through - from the author, publisher, printer, bookstores, to readers, including the author him/herself as a reader. Every element is considered in relation to other elements in the circle, and in connection with external factors such as the economic and social environment, and political and intellectual influences. The books presented in the catalogue have been analyzed using different criteria: language, genre and country where they were printed. Books printed in Croatia and those written in Croatian have been given priority. In the catalogue analysis we used the database Skupni katalog hrvatskih knjižnica (joint Croatian library catalogue) in order to reconstruct the printing year and printing shops that have not been listed in the catalogues. Using this methodology, we partly analyzed external factors that influenced the bookstore business and offer. In order to make a more detailed analysis, we would have to get an insight into archive documents on printing house and bookstore businesses of the time.
The analysis of the book catalogue language and genre has shown that at the turn of the 19 the century books in German prevailed in bookstores, which bears witness to the orientation of Northern Croatia towards German-speaking countries.
The genre analysis has shown that there was a large number of books from the field of literature, economy and science, and fewer books on theology, which clearly indicated the influence of enlightenment.
As bookstores at the turn of the 19th century were market-based to a large extent, their offer had to be based on the real needs of their readers. It is therefore justified to analyze bookstore catalogues as resources for book history, history of reading and history of culture in general. The analysis has shown that bookstore catalogues can also be used as a resource by literary historians, and we therefore propose different models of analyzing bookstore and printing business at the turn of the 19th century.


Keywords : books, bookstores, bookstore catalogues, history of books, Zagreb, 18th century.


Keywords


books, bookstores, bookstore catalogues, history of books, Zagreb, 18th century

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v1i2.128

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Libellarium (Online). ISSN 1846-9213 © 2008

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.