The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800

§ 17. Trade books

The Dictionary, after the manuscript had at length been extracted from Johnson, was published jointly by several booksellers who had joined forces for the occasion. This practice of co-operation in important undertakings was a regular feature in eighteenth century publishing, and various associations for the purpose were brought into existence. One of these, called The Conger was formed in 1719, and this was followed in 1736 by the New Conger. After these came the famous organisation which met for the transaction of business at the Chapter coffee-house in St. Paul’s churchyard; hence, books brought out by the associated partners were, for a time, styled Chapter books, but, later, came to be known as Trade books. This method of publication led to many literary properties being divided into numerous shares, sometimes so many as a hundred or even more, which were bought or sold and freely passed on from one bookseller to another. In 1776, a sixteenth share of Pamela was sold for £18, and a thirty-second part of Hervey’s Meditations brought £32, while, in 1805, £11 was given for a one-hundredth share in The Lives of the Poets. William Johnson, a London bookseller, stated, in 1774, that three-quarters of the books in the trade had his name as part proprietor.