The Paris book trade: a geography

Booksellers, printers, bookbinders et type-founders all had their own specific locations within the city. They were primarily located in the Latin Quarter and on the Ile de la Cité, near the Palace and Parliament. Booksellers were thus in immediate contact with their clientele, who consisted primarily of members of the legal profession, clerics and students.

There was no printer within the walls of the Palace, but its arcades housed a number of bookshops, offering lawyers and prosecutors editions of Corpus Juris Civilis, coutumiers, collections of legislation and royal edicts, etc. Publications underwritten by the Palace's booksellers indicated their precise location. Thus, in 1511, Galliot du Pré could be found "in the hall of the Palace at the second pillar towards the chapel where mass is sung for the Presidents".

In the Latin Quarter, there were nearly six hundred bookbinders, booksellers, punch-cutters, type-founders and printers.

Outside the Palace, on the Ile de la Cité, there were several of booksellers, such as Pierre Roffet and Guillaume Godard. A number of bookstalls could also be found on the Petit Pont, the Pont Saint-Michel and the Pont-au-Change. In the Latin Quarter, there were a great many printers and bookshops – nearly six hundred bookbinders, booksellers, punch-cutters, type-founders and printers set up shop, cheek-by-jowl. These close quarters allowed members of the book trade to form a strong social group, bound by commercial and family ties.

The booksellers of the Latin Quarter often met at mass in the parishes of Saint-Benoît, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont and Saint-Séverin. Lists of churchwardens who represented the parishioners give an indication of the influence of this social group in the life of the Latin Quarter. In 1522, for example, the list of churchwardens for the parish of Saint-Benôit included the booksellers Thielman Kerver, Jean Petit, Josse Bade, Claude Chevallon, Conrad Resch, Regnault Tarzy and Jean Eschart – seven out of the twelve positions.

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