Those with a general interest in the subject of this book may wish to read the main text through without consulting the data in the back. Others—particularly students and scholars of the history of books, and of the Enlightenment and eighteenth-century thought and culture—may wish to consult the data frequently while reading the main text. Still others may wish to use this book as a reference work, focusing on the data, and reading the main text selectively.
The book has been organized to provide convenient access points to the data for readers in the last two categories, with a minimum of distractions for readers in the first category. As explained in chapter 1, the book's empirical foundation is a database containing information about 115 Scottish authors (table 1) who published 360 books (table 2) during the period 1746–1800. Throughout the main text, parenthetical references such as (no. 131) or (nos. 17 and 162) correspond to the numbers of the titles listed in table 2. These references provide a quick link to further information on books discussed in the text, but nonspecialists may choose to ignore them. Readers wishing to consult the data in table 2 may gain access by using the numbers that follow each author's name in table 1 (if the starting point is a particular author) or the numbers that follow the names of publishers in the index of publishers appended to table 2 (if the starting point is a particular publisher).