Print for Free: Non-Commercial Publishing in Comparative Perspective (1996)

Nineteenth-century broadside from New Orleans:

This conference pursued the theme of freely distributed print since the eighteenth century. Speakers included Prof. Leslie Howsam (Windsor, Canada), Prof. Masayuki Sato (Yamanashi, Japan), and Dr Vadim Volkov (St Petersburg). The papers considered the production, distribution and reception of unsolicited literature, ranging from wartime and religious propaganda to personal gifts and modern junk mail. The published volume provides the first comparative analysis of the response to non-commercial print. An introductory essay offers an overview of this much neglected aspect of bibliographical history. This volume was published by Ashgate Press in 2000 as:

James Raven (ed.), Free Print and Non-commercial Publishing since 1700. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000


  • James Raven Print for free: unsolicited literature in comparative perspective
  • Anna Giulia Cavagna A free transmission of knowledge: the literary gifts and reception of an eighteenth-century scholar
  • David Money Free flattery or servile tribute? Oxford and Cambridge commemorative poetry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • Marcus Wood ‘The Abolition Blunderbuss’: free publishing and British abolition propaganda, 1780-1838
  • Florence M. Jumonville Free for all: broadsides on the streets of New Orleans, 1764-1900
  • Leslie Howsam The nineteenth-century Bible Society and ‘The Evil of Gratuitous Distribution’
  • James Raven Sent to the wilderness: mission literature in colonial America
  • Anindita Ghosh Between text and reader: the experience of Christian missionaries in Bengal, 1800-50
  • Vadim V. Volkov Limits to propaganda: Soviet power and the peasant reader in the 1920s
  • Valerie Holman Air-borne culture: propaganda leaflets over occupied France in the Second World War
  • Joanna Lewis Mau Mau’s war of words: the battle of the pamphlets’

It is a measure of the fascination of this book that it raises so many unanswered questions even amidst so much impeccable scholarship. The contributors are all leading people in their respective fields. All of the papers are firmly based on Primary research. If some of the topics are familiar to specialists, there is nevertheless a new angle on almost all of them. This collection is a significant contribution to our understanding of a neglected aspect of the history of communication.

Journal of Documentation