The Evolution of W. H. Smith’s Bookselling Strategies and Responsibilities, from the Edwardians to a More Permissive Age

In: Logos
Author: Kate Macdonald1
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This article describes W. H. Smith’s bookselling strategies in the 20th century, and how the firm handled the question of whether it should supply potentially offensive publications to the public, in the 1960s and early 1970s. Its internal debate centred on avoiding adverse publicity and challenging the firm’s moral values. This research-based discussion draws attention to the relationships between booksellers and the buying public in Britain, and the expectations they each had of the other. The research indicates the wider implications for how we study print culture and book history, and the importance of the modern bookselling archive.

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