Mezinárodní síť knihkupce Wolfganga Gerleho (1770-1790). Příspěvek k analýze šíření informací v českých zemích
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THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF THE BOOKSELLER WOLFGANG GERLE (1770-1790). A CONTRIBUTION TO AN ANALYSIS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION IN THE CZECH LANDS
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An analysis of commercial practices, the network of contacts and the order book of the bookseller Wolfgang Gerle aims to clarify the status of Prague in the European book and information trade and intellectual interchanges between 1770 and 1790. This study draws on preserved book catalogues and Gerle's correspondence with the Swiss company Societe typographique de Neuchâtel. The author establishes the methods by which books were supplied to Prague, positioned as it was in a triangle between the Catholic German countries, near-by Evangelical Leipzig, the heart of the German book trade, and Vienna, the capital city of the Monarchy. The case of the Enlightenment bookseller Gerle shows that the standard of literary knowledge was high; getting supplies from diverse and direct sources was considered necessary: Gerle became involved with German booksellers' commercial networks (he maintained direct links with Leipzig, Berlin, Regensburg, Dresden, Nurnberg) and also the French ones (Paris, Liege and numerous Swiss towns) and obviously with those within the Monarchy (Vienna, Pressburg). Despite that, his competitive ambitions were curtailed by various restrictions, which permeated a society whose path to modernity was at its very beginning. Gerle's readership did comprise a rather narrow elite. His marketing strategy of combating the already over strong competition through the quality of his books proved to be financially unsustainable in the end. However, it is an indication of transformations in the economic conditions of those times and an emerging wider public readership, i.e. ultimately a civic society.
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