January 11

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

New-London Gazette (January 11, 1771).

To be Sold by Garret Noel, at New-York … and at the Printing-Office in N. London.”

Timothy Green, printer of the New-London Gazette, augmented revenues by selling books, pamphlets, and almanacs in addition to newspaper subscriptions and advertising.  Two advertisements in the January 11, 1771, edition of the New-London Gazette promoted items available at his printing office, “Ames’s Almanack” and “A Review Of the Military Operations in NORT[H]-AMERICA.”  Much of the advertisement for the latter consisted of the extensive subtitle that summarized the contents of the book.  It covered a portion of the conflict now known by several names, including the French and Indian War, the Seven Years War, and the Great War for Empire, “From the Commencement of the FrenchHostilities on the Frontiers of Virginia, in 1753, to the Surrender of Oswego, on the 14th of August 1756.”  That narrative was “Interspersed with various Observations, Characters, and Anecdotes, necessary to give Light into the Conduct of American Transactions in general; and more especially into the political Management of Affairs in New-York.”

First published in London in 1757, the Review of the Military Operations in North America was reprinted in New England in 1758 and, again, in New York in 1770.  Alexander Robertson and James Robertson printed the more recent edition that Green sold.  The advertisement in the New-London Gazette provided an overview of the network of printers and booksellers throughout the colonies who cooperated in distributing the book to consumers, listing eight individuals or partnerships in eight towns from Boston to Charleston.  Other advertisements for books printed in the colonies sometimes included similar lists, creating the impression of a community of readers that extended far beyond the local market.  Residents of New London who obtained copies at Green’s printing office joined readers who acquired theirs from Garret Noel’s bookshop in New York or from “Mr. Stephens, at the Coffee-House” in Charleston.  Printers and publishers often could not generate sufficient demand to justify producing American editions for local markets, so they strove to create regional or continental markets via networks of agents and associates as well as subscription notices and newspaper advertisements disseminated widely.

August 27

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Aug 27 - 8:27:1767 New-York Journal
New-York Journal (August 27, 1767).

“The Subscribers are desired to send for ther Books as soon as possible.”

In 1767 Lambertus de Ronde, “Minister of the Protestant Dutch Church, at New-York,” inserted an advertisement in the New-York Journal to announce that he had finally published True Spiritual Religion, Or Delightful Service of the Lord. The minister had previously solicited subscriptions to gauge the market for his book, but the anticipated date of publication had been delayed due to “the Pre-engagement of the Printer in other Work.”

This actually worked to the author’s benefit – and to the benefit of subscribers, according to de Ronde. He took advantage of the extra time to “enlarge” the volume, drawing up an “alphabetical Table of the Contents.” In other words, he created an index “for the greater Usefulness and Conveniency of the Reader, who now can readily know on what Page the Words and Things are to be found.” Such a helpful addition to the original manuscript, de Ronde insinuated, certainly excused the delay in publishing the book!

The author also suggested that this must make his book more attractive to additional customers, not just the original subscribers. He indicated that he had “a few more to dispose of than were subscribed for.” In effect, his advertisement did not merely announce publication of True Spiritual Religion and call on subscribers to retrieve their copies. Instead, what masqueraded as an announcement actually marketed the book to other readers. In addition to promoting the utility of the index, de Ronde also praised the material qualities of the volume. It was “printed on a good Paper” and “also neatly bound” (as opposed to being sold in sheets for buyers to have bound on their own). In addition, the printer had set the book with “new large Letter” that readers would find “very Easy for the Eyes.” Even though these various enhancements made the book “more expensive,” de Ronde parted with it at “the lowest Rate” he could charge “without the Author’s Loss.” This was a bargain for potential customers!

Although Lambertus de Ronde addressed subscribers more than once in his advertisement, he did not merely inform them that True Spiritual Religion was ready for delivery. Instead, he used that as a pretext for marketing surplus copies to additional readers who had not participated in the first round of subscriptions. To some extent, he also marketed the book to the original subscribers, especially those who had not paid in full. For any who wavered in their commitment to acquire (and pay for) True Spiritual Religion, he provided multiple reasons for following through on their commitment.