In 1275, the kingdom of France ruled on the rights of stationarii (copyists) and librarii (librairies, the French for “bookshop”), newly emancipated from the yoke of the Church (Friedrich Karl von Savigny (author and publisher), Histoire du droit romain au moyen âge, Tome III, Charles Hingray, Paris, 1839 (1815), p. 415). The main question was and has always been, even before the invention of printing, the regulation of the circulation of writing, and the designation of those responsible for their inscription and distribution.
Robin Kinross identified the emergence of the modern figure of the typographer in the 17th century, with The doctrine of handy-works: applied to the art of printing by Joseph Moxon (Robin Kinross, Modern typography: An Essay in Critical History, Hyphen Press, London, 2004 (1992) pp. 15-16). But long before this, graphic artists, copyists, and typographers such as Geoffroy Tory and Henri Estienne the elder were both booksellers and publishers who gave much thought to their practice and the contents that they released into the public space.
It would seem that the time has come to reassess this ancient tradition, with more and more graphic artists and designers choosing to establish their own publishing houses in order to defend their editorial approach in both senses of the word—that of “editing” and the choice and organization of graphic material, but also in the sense of “publishing”, applying a certain ethic to the distribution and advertising of the contents.
Author: Thierry Chancogne