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American Primers and Readers

Featuring the Words and Collection of Richard L. Venezky

An online exhibition of the Cubberley Education Library, Stanford University

Textbook Business: Marketing

Overview of Textbook Business Marketing exhibit case
Detail of left side of exhibit case

"With the spread of the common school movement in the 1830s and 1840s, textbook publishing became a major independent business, complete with specialized publishing houses and separate sales forces" (Venezky, 1990b, pp. xvii-xviii).

Detail of right side of exhibit case

"Larger markets, cheaper transportation, and advantages for larger press runs led to a consolidation of the textbook trade that began in the second quarter of the nineteenth century and continued to the early 1900s. Texts like the McGuffey Readers that originated as regional products soon were stripped of their geographical identity and marketed as national products. Although northern in origins, mention of Abraham Lincoln or of the horrors of slavery were carefully avoided" (Venezky, 1994, p. 586).

S.A. Howland advertisement Testimonials for the Russells Elementary Series

"Nineteenth-century textbooks often attempted to validate themselves through testimonials to their virtues, reproduced in the beginnings or endings of the texts" (Venezky, 1992, p. 438).

Advertisement for Swinton's Readers in California Teacher Journal

Advertisement for Swinton's Readers, from The California Teacher and Home Journal, 2-3 (1884).

Detail of frontispiece from Swinton's Third Reader

Swinton, William. 1882. Swinton's Third Reader. New York; Chicago: American Book Company.

Flowchart of the Instructional Materials Adoption Process