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

§ 37. Trade sales

A considerable proportion of the business of distributing books from the publisher to the retail bookseller was effected through the medium of sales, and trade sales were as much an institution of the eighteenth century as were trade books. These sales, to which only booksellers were admitted, and often only such as were invited by having a catalogue sent to them, consisted either of new books, which were offered to “the trade” on special terms before publication, or of the stock of a bookseller retiring from business, or, again, of the remaining stock of certain books which had not “gone off” to the publisher’s expectations. It was customary for purchasers of these “remainders” to destroy a large proportion of them and charge full price for the rest; and there was an understanding that, if anyone was known to sell such books under publication price, he should be excluded from future sales. James Lackington, the cheap bookseller, who always took a strong line of his own, after a time broke through this custom, and sold off his purchases at a half or even a quarter of the regular price.