"In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American Book?"
-- SYDNEY SMITH in the Edinburgh Review for January, 1820.
LONG BEFORE the Revolutionary War the American book was a well- known, albeit minor, feature of the English and Scottish booktrade, and a few authors--like Jonathan Edwards--had laid the groundwork for a European reputation which is now theirs. A Colonial writer who had produced a manuscript which seemed to be of more than local interest often arranged for first publication in Europe, then as now a sure means of securing respect at home. Increase Mather may be taken as an example. Of the nonfragmentary separates which he published during the years 1663 to 1726, one hundred and two in number, thirteen were first brought out in London, one in Amsterdam, and one in Edinburgh.1 But more numerous by far than such first editions were the British reprints of works previously published in America. The very first book of which the historian of printing in the United States may boast, The Bay Psalm Book of 1640, went through at least eighteen editions in England and twenty- two in Scotland before 1759.2 Then, too, many books manufactured in the Colonies were exported and offered for sale in certain British bookstores, especially those owned by the men engaged in the fairly lucrative business of dispatching reading matter to the tradesmen of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
The struggles of the Revolution and the War of 1812 served to quicken European interest in the new States, and British trade in American books was probably enhanced,3 although, for a time, first____________________