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126. Marketing; Publishing
"It is, perhaps, not considered through how many hands a book
often passes, before it comes into those of the reader; or what
part of the profit each hand must retain, as a motive for
transmitting it to the next."
A gentleman maintained that the art of printing had hurt real
learning, by disseminating idle writings. Johnson: "Sir,
if it had not been for the art of printing, we should now have no
learning at all; for books would have perished faster than they
could have been transcribed."
241. O.J. Simpson Books :-); Publishing;
Johnson was by no means of opinion, that every man of a learned
profession should consider it as incumbent upon him, or as
necessary to his credit, to appear as an author. When in the
ardour of ambition of literary fame, I regretted to him one day
that an eminent Judge had nothing of it, and therefore would
leave no perpetual monument of himself to posterity. "Alas,
Sir, (said Johnson,) what a mass of confusion should we have, if
every Bishop, and every Judge, every Lawyer, Physician and
Divine, were to write books."
948. Publishing; Reading;
"One of the amusements of idleness is reading without the fatigue
of close attention; and the world therefore swarms with writers
whose wish is not to be studied, but to be read."
Johnson: Idler #30 (November 11, 1758)
"Of the innumerable books and pamphlets that have overflowed the
nation, scarce one has made any addition to real knowledge, or
contained more than a transposition of common sentiments and a
repetition of common phrases."
Johnson: Adventurer #115 (December 11, 1753)
On the burst of aspiring authors, letters to editors, and books
and pamphlets of little or no value: "The cause, therefore, of
this epidemical conspiracy for the destruction of paper, must
remain a secret..."
Johnson: Adventurer #115 (December 11, 1753)
1,666. Publishing; Reading
That a writer, however zealous or eloquent, seldom works a
visible effect upon cities or nations, will readily be granted.
The book which is read most, is read by few, compared with those
that read it not; and of those few, the greater part peruse it
with dispositions that very little favour their own
It is difficult to enumerate the several motives which procure
to books the honour of perusal: spite, vanity, and curiosity,
hope and fear, love and hatred, every passion which incites to
any other action, serves at one time or other to stimulate a
Some are fond to take a celebrated volume into their hands,
because they hope to distinguish their penetration, by finding
faults which have escaped the publick; others eagerly buy it in
the first bloom of reputation, that they may join the chorus of
praise, and not lag, as Falstaff terms it, in "the reward of the
Some read for style, and some for argument: one has little
care about the sentiment, he observes only how it is expressed;
another regards not the conclusion, but is diligent to mark how
it is inferred; they read for other purposes than the attainment
of practical knowledge; and are no more likely to grow wise by an
examination of a treatise of moral prudence, than an architect to
inflame his devotion by considering attentively the proportions
of a temple.
Some read that they may embellish their conversation, or shine
in dispute; some that they may not be detected in ignorance, or
want the reputation of literary accomplishments: but the most
general and prevalent reason of study is the impossibility of
finding another amusement equally cheap or constant, equally
independent on the hour or the weather. He that wants money to
follow the chase of pleasure through her yearly circuit, and is
left at home when the gay world rolls to Bath or Tunbridge; he
whose gout compels him to hear from his chamber the rattle of
chariots transporting happier beings to plays and assemblies,
will be forced to seek in books a refuge from himself.
The author is not wholly useless, who provides innocent
amusements for minds like these. There are, in the present state
of things, so many more instigations to evil, than incitements to
good, that he who keeps men in a neutral state, may be justly
considered as a benefactor to life.
Johnson: Adventurer #137 (February 26, 1754)
"One of the peculiarities which distinguish the present age is
the multiplication of books. Every day brings new advertisements
of literary undertakings, and we are flattered with repeated
promises of growing wise on easier terms."
Johnson: Idler #85 (December 1, 1759)
1,847. Publishing; Reading
"The continual multiplication of books not only distracts choice,
but disappoints enquiry. To him that has moderately stored his
mind with images, few writers afford any novelty; or what little
they have to add to the common stock of learning, is so buried in
the mass of general notions, that, like silver mingled with the
ore of lead, it is too little to pay for the labour of
separation; and he that has often been deceived by the promise of
a title, at last grows weary of examining, and is tempted to
consider all as equally fallacious."
Johnson: Idler #94 (February 2, 1760)