Evolutionary Economic History of the American Book Trade

Daniel Raff, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: This proposal concerns a study of the evolution of channels of distribution for books and other long-form reading matter in the United States over the long twentieth century.  It is business history written in the spirit of evolutionary economics.  Its central focus lies in the period from 1971 through the present.  The role of technology and firm-level capabilities in firm and industry development is attended to carefully.  The study is based on trade sources, SEC documents, and nearly two hundred interviews with individuals involved in one way or another with key enterprises, projects. and decisions.