The Typographic Hub

Publishers’  parlance

3rd October 2010

Prints Past / Publishers, like printers, have their own slang and jargon

Publishers, like printers, have a slang and jargon that is familiar to booksellers, printers and binders and which is in part drawn from those three groups and which dates as far back as 1690 when in the earliest dictionary of all sorts of slang, its author, B. E. included and entry for Conger which was a derogatory term for trading booksellers mentioned in an earlier Prints Past.

Grub Street News refers to false news, and hackney scribblers were mercenary writers - the noun hack, was first used in 1774 and came to general used by the end of the century; whilst top-dressing was the practice of using a prominent man’s preface to a new writer’s work. Penny dreadfuls, were 1d publications which depended more on sensationalism than literary merit, whilst shilling shockers were full-length novels with the same characteristics! Puff was first used in 1732 to mean the ‘nose’ created by authors in order to increase the reputation and sales of their books – it is a skill that finds its fullest expression in the 21st century!