IN the general Preface to this work, printed in the first volume, I pointed out that an account of the production and distribution of books for the two centuries immediately succeeding the invention of printing, must, of necessity, be chiefly devoted to the operations of the printer-publishers of the period. During these centuries were produced a number of the great books of the world's literature, but it was not possible, under the existing conditions, for the authors of these books to influence materially the relations of literature to the State or to the Church. Freedom of speech and even freedom of thought depended very largely upon an untrammelled printingpress, but the authors were able to give but little aid in the arduous task of securing from the political and ecclesiastical authorities the right to multiply books. It is true that the writers of the Reformation period were in a position to render very important coöperation in the work of developing a reading public and in the further work of creating machinery by means of which such public could be reached. But notwithstanding the noteworthy exception presented by the writings from Wittenberg and Geneva, it remains the fact that for the centuries in question, the works of contemporary authors constituted but an inconsiderable proportion of the books published.
The lists of these earlier publishers were devoted to editions of the complete Bible, and of the different groups of the Biblical books, editions of the Greek and Roman