Abstract: Cooperating for Free Trade: The Publishing Industry in Nineteenth-Century France
In the historiography on business in France, even more than elsewhere, businessmen have been characterized as individualistic and averse to association. This assumption is belied, however, by the case of the publishing industry in nineteenth-century France. In my paper, I will use this case to suggest that the establishment of a market in a given industry depends heavily upon networking between businessmen, as well as between businessmen and men of state. Drawing on research in government and trade archives, this paper will trace how publishers in France used networks with each other and with members of successive governments to free their trade from state regulation over the course of the nineteenth century. Focusing especially on the case of the publisher Louis Hachette, who as president of the main trade association in publishing (the Cercle de la Librairie) in the early 1860s spearheaded the campaign for de-regulation of the industry, it will argue that "free trade" often hinges on cooperation.