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A: Paris, Île-de-France, France

The Earliest Surviving Statute Regulating the Paris Book Trade


The earliest surviving statute concerning the regulation of the book trade in Paris by the University became law on December 8, 1275. 

"Libraires represented a serious potential danger to the university, because they controlled the supply of books without which the university would be crippled. Therefore, the university's regulations of libraires concentrated first and foremost on the selling of 'used' university texts, attempting by a variety of means to ensure that the libraire did not swindle either the seller or the buyer, and that he took only a modest commission. The libraires had to guarantee their compliance by posting a bond. . . .

"In addition to regulating the sale of existing books, the university also regulated the rental of examplars from which students and masters could copy, or hire someone to copy, new manuscripts of their own. In this the university initially must simply have put its stamp of approval on a process already informally in operation. To judge from the wording of surviving regulations through the years, the university evinced concern primarily with rental price and correct texts. In 1323 the stationers were forbidden to withdraw an examplar from circulation without  first informing the university. . . ." (Richard A. Rouse and Mary A. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers. Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris 1200-1500 [2000] 76-77).

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