HACHETTE, LOUIS (1800-1864), founder of the great Paris publishing house; born at Rethel (Ardennes), 5 May 1800. A graduate of the Ecole Normal Supérieure ( 1822), Hachette studied law but in 1826 founded a press to publish school textbooks. By 1850 Hachette's was already a large and thriving business, specializing in science and history as well as literature. The press published travel guides (for example, Joanne's) and, from 1860, a travel journal ( Tour du monde), dictionaries ( Vapereau Dictionnaire universel des contemporains, Emile Littré's Dictionnaire de la langue française [ 1863- 1873]), and works of classical literature. Although Hachette's published from 1852 the best of contemporary foreign literature in translation and although these books in their red covers constituted a new threat to the well-being of French writers, Louis Hachette was noted for the respect and dignity with which he treated his authors. As one who contributed greatly to the establishment of protection for literary and artistic property in France (decrees of 17 February and 28 March 1852), he invariably tried to persuade writers to hold on to their property. From 1836 he had been the proponent of an absolute right of ownership of literary property, as opposed to reciprocity.
In 1855, with Charles Lahure, Hachette established the Journal pour tous to serialize novels in illustrated form. In 1862 Emile Zola began his Paris career as a clerk and later director of advertising at Hachette's. Louis Hachette avoided politics, but he wrote a number of rapports and mémoires on questions of social organization and public assistance. Hachette's flourished under the leadership of its founder and of his relatives and collaborators, Louis Bréton (d. 1883) and Emile Templier (d. 1891), who carried on after Louis Hachette's death, together with his second son, Georges ( 1838- 1892; involved in the business from 1863). In one important respect, Louis Hachette helped to shape the reading habits of France. His press, which received permission in 1850 from the post office to transport newspapers, obtained between 1852 and 1855 exclusive rights to sell books and newspapers from kiosks on railway station platforms and kept the monopoly, except for 1896 to 1905, until World War II. There were 442 stalls in 1874, although newspapers were more important than books by 1865. Hachette died at Paris, 31 July 1864.