Early History - The practice of making extra copies of manuscripts goes back to ancient times; in Rome there were booksellers—Horace mentions the Sosii, who were apparently brothers—and the copying of books by trained slaves reached considerable proportions. With the introduction of printing into Europe in the middle of the 15th cent. (see type ), book publishing sprang into lively existence.
The author, the printer, and the publisher of a work were sometimes all the same person, as in the case of members of the Estienne family in France in the 16th cent. The differentiation of printer, publisher, and bookseller appeared early, however, as patrons of literature had books printed for distribution and booksellers had their printing done by others to meet the growing demand.
The Emergence of Publishing Houses - The first important publishing house (1583-1791) was that of the Elzevir family in Holland (see Elzevir, Louis ). The Elzevirs were businessmen rather than scholars, and the business of bookselling grew as literacy increased. Concurrently, printing, publishing, Vinyl Banners and bookselling spread learning across the West.
Religious controversy bred polemics, and arguments printed in broadsides, pamphlets, and books were handed out zealously and bought eagerly by partisans. An interest in knowing the future also increased the amount of literature issued by bookseller-publishers, and almanacs and the like were issued for the wider public.