26 Sellers and Buyers of the Lyon Book Market in the Late 15th Century
Without a university or parliament, Lyon became an important centre of book production and distribution over the last quarter of the fifteenth century. In the course of these years, favourable economic conditions with the development of a fourth annual fair and elaborate banking services, turned the provincial merchant town into a European marketplace. Constant movement of people, goods, and money, as well as a ten-year tax exemption for newcomers to the printing business, attracted printers and booksellers who placed Lyon at the heart of networks operating near and far. Contemporary material evidence from the buyers’ side documents the markets targeted by the Lyon book merchants during this key period, some of their strategies, and skills at time and distance management. It also suggests how, in their spheres of influence, the development of the book trade could have played a part in the evolution of urban and rural society. With little archival evidence at hand, we need to reassess the larger organisation of the Lyon book trade in the international landscape and the part played by the importation of books. A mapping of available data, and observations on bindings and provenance, is helping to define the role of the city in the circulation of books, printed locally or elsewhere, throughout France.