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BOOKS POPULAR ON THE RAIL.
North-Western Railway, published in Murray's ~ Colonial Library," sold to the extent of upwards of 2000 copies. Borrow's “Bible” and “Gypsies in Spain," are always in demand, and St. John's “ Highland Sports” keep pace with them. Graver books have equally steady sale. Coleridge's works are popular on the rail.
“ Friends in Council," “Companions of my Solitude," and similar small books grasping great subjects, and written with high philosophical aim, are continually purchased. Poetry is no drug at the prosaic terminus if the price of the article be moderate. Moore's “Songs and Ballads,” published at 58. each ; Tennyson's works, and especially “In Memoriam,” have gone off eagerly; the same remark applies to the Lays of Macaulay and to the Scotch Ballads of Aytoun. A pamphlet, a new book, written by a person of eminence, on a subject of immediate interest, goes off like wildfire at the rail. The Bishop of Exeter's pamphlet on "Baptismal Regeneration,” and Baptist Noel's book on the Church, had an unlimited sale at Euston-square while excitement on these questions lasted. Books on sporting matters, published by Longman, such as “The Hunting Field,” are purchased very generally by country gentlemen, who appear, according to our intelligent informant, to have had no opportunity of seeing such works before. Ladies—we beg their pardon for revealing the singular fact—are not great purchasers of good books at the station. This season they have been greedy in their demand for “The Female Jesuit," but their ordinary request is for the last cheap novel published in the “Parlour” or “Popular Library.” If they do by chance pur
chase a really serious book it is invariably a religious
There is a regular sale on the line for what are termed Low Church books, but scarcely any demand for the religious works of the order published by Masters.
Unexpected revelations come forth in the course of inquiry. It has been remarked that persons who apparently would be ashamed to be found reading certain works at home, have asked for publications of the worst character at the railway book-stall, and being unable to obtain them, in evident annoyance have suddenly disappeared. It is much to be feared that the demand for such publications continues, because it has not in all cases and at all stations been immediately and sufficiently checked. The style of books sold depends more upon the salesman than on the locality; but there are exceptions to the rule. At Bangor, all books in the Welsh language must have a strong Dissenting and Radical savour. English books at the same station must be High Church and Conservative. Schoolboys always insist upon having Ainsworth's novels and anything terrible. Children's books are disdained, and left for their sisters. “ Jack Sheppard” is tabooed at the North-Western, and great is the wrath of the boys accordingly.
Stations have their idiosyncracies. Yorkshire is not partial to poetry. It is very difficult to sell a valuable book at any of the stands between Derby, Leeds, and Manchester. Religious books hardly find a purchaser in Liverpool, while at Manchester, at the other end of the line, they are in high demand. “Sophisms of Free Trade,” by Serjeant Byles, sold at all the stations to the extent of some hundreds.
CHEAP BOOKS ON THE RAIL.
The “ Answer” to that brochure was scarcely looked at, although the line is crowded with free trade passengers, and traverses the most important free trade districts in the kingdom.
Descending to the cheaper volumes, the most important section of this singularly interesting trade, we arrive at valuable facts. Weale's series of
practical scientific works, published at 1s. and 2s. each, have been, and continue to be, very generally purchased by the mechanics, engine-drivers, and others employed upon the line. Thousands of copies have been circulated through such industrious hands. For cheap and useful books of this kind, working men generally and some country people are the best customers, while the wives of mechanics confine their patronage exclusively to the cheaper religious publications. Longman's "Traveller's Library," price 1s., found a market at once. A thousand copies of “ Warren Hastings” were disposed of as quickly as they could be supplied; of “Lord Clive,” 750 copies have been sold; of "London,” 500; and the sale of these books steadily goes on. Three thousand of Washington Irving's works, as reprinted by Routledge, Bohn, and others, have proceeded from the stations into the reading world ; and “ had these books”
-We use the words of our informant-" been published in a cheap form by Murray, we should have sold
more; for, in the first instance, we set our face against the system of making free with another man's property, and resisted the proceeding until the public grew clamorous, and obliged us to give way."
We intreat Mr. Murray's attention to thes3 words.
This eminent publisher was the first, if we mistake not, to publish first-rate works at a moderate price for general circulation. Why should he not reprint his Home and Colonial Library for the rail, and follow the good example set by Messrs. Longman at the instigation of Mr. Macaulay ? Cheap literature is a paying literature, if judiciously managed. A host of readers are springing up along the lines of rail, and imitators of the North-Western missionary will not long be wanting at every terminus in the kingdom. Railway directors will find it their interest no less than their duty to secure the co-operation of intelligent men, and book-stalls will crave for wholesome food, which our chief purveyors must not be slow to furnish. Let there be a speedy and final sweeping away of trumpery and trash, and in God's name let all who can, make one great effort in a promising direction towards elevating the character of our humbler fellow-countrymen, and improving the minds and hearts of all. We cannot afford to part with the glorious opportunity presented in the “rail.” The readers of this circulating library are much too large and indiscriminate, the hours at their disposal by far too many, to permit indifference or neglect. The disciples of Aristotle inculcated wisdom while walking in the Athenian Lyceum. Our modern eachers have countless scholars desirous to be edified and improved on their daily travels. The Universities are exclusive, but the “rail” knows no distinction of rank, religion, or caste. We cannot promise to instruct by steam, or to convey knowledge by express speed, but we may at least provide cheap and good books for willing purchasers, and make the
DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE.
most of that anxious and welcome desire for know. ledge which locomotion has mainly introduced, and which cannot be gratified without adding to the happiness of the individual, and conducing to the permanent good of society.
August 9th, 1851.
END OF VOL. I.
BRADBURY, EVANS, AND CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.