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User Guide

1. Introduction

This interface enables you to interact with the STN Database Archive in six general ways: by browsing the books, authors, keywords, clients, professions, and places in the database, to see detailed information about each; by mapping the geographical dissemination of these items or querying the database for some additional information about them; by ranking the items by how much of the STN’s trade they account for; by comparing up to three of each by how much trade they account for; and by searching for particular items in the database. In addition, the various options enable you to refine your interrogation of the database by restricting calculations to various subsets of the data.

The bedrock of the database is a set of over 70,000 events, each of which took place on a certain day between 1769 and 1794. Every event involves a certain number of copies of a certain edition of a certain book, and most of them also involve one or more clients (such as the client who purchased or supplied those copies). There are also events, however, in which no copies changed hands - such as printings or stock takes - which do not have any clients associated.

Having said that, the situation is in fact slightly more complicated: every event involves certain numbers of copies of certain volumes of a certain edition of a certain book - and since multi-volume works were often exchanged in incomplete sets, this complication does make a difference. For the most part, however, this complication has been hidden from summary parts of the database, according to the following formula:

number of copies of edition = number of copies of all volumes
number of volumes in that edition

In plain terms: if, for example, only volumes 1-3 of a four volume edition were exchanged on a given day, this will count as 0.75 copies of that edition being exchanged.

Should precise details be required, these can be gathered from the last two items in the query menu - Events by Book and Events by Client - where you can bring up full information for every event involving a particular book or client (right down to the last volume).

For purposes of calculating summary totals, the events have been grouped into three kinds: sales, sales minus returns, and supplies. Supplies are those events where a client provided the STN with some copies of a book. Sales are those events where the STN provided a client with some copies of a book. Sales minus returns are sales, but with totals subtracted from events where a client returned copies of that book, or where copies where returned before arrival. Note that in certain cases, when interrogating the database, the sales minus returns option will return negative sales (if more copies where returned during the period selected than were sent out). In these cases, percentages may rise to more than 100. This is particularly likely for 1794, in which a large number of copies were returned. Thus, while the sales minus returns option generally gives more reliable figures over longer periods, for shorter periods the raw sales option may be preferred.

2. Browse

There are seven browsable types of object in the database: books, authors, modern keywords, Parisian categories, clients, professions (divided into professions, profession groups and economic sectors), and towns (towns have also been divided up into various different place groupings, all available from the browse menu). Simply select the item that interests you from the relevant drop-down menu, and detailed information about that item will appear. Note that this information is not affected by any restrictions you make in the options menus (see section 7 below) - no matter which parts of the data are hidden for queries, rankings, and comparisons, full data will always be displayed on the browse pages.

3. Map

The map menu is designed to give you more information about the geographical dissemination of particular items: where copies of a particular book came from and went to. It is also possible to map authors, professions, keywords or languages. This menu is similar to the query menu but only focuses on the geographical aspect of the database.

4. Query

The query menu is designed to give you more information about particular items. Books can also be grouped by author, keyword, language, original language (when translated), and publication place.

The last entries in the query menu are for bringing up a full list (subject to any restrictions you may have in place from the options menu; see section 7 below) of events involving an individual book or client - see the description of events given in the introduction above for more details.

By default, events from the whole time period are shown or factored into the totals calculated, but you may restrict your queries to particular time periods if you wish.

This menu is similar to the map menu but only focuses on the non-geographical aspect of the database.

5. Rank

Books, authors, keywords, languages, original languages (for translations), publication places, clients, professions, and places can all be ranked according to the quantity of trade they account for in the database. The result is effectively a list of ‘bestselling’ or ‘best-purchasing’ tables (depending on the direction of trade - sales or supply - that you select).

By default, events from the whole time period are factored into the totals calculated, but you may restrict your rankings to particular time periods if you wish. Restrictions from the options menu also apply; see section 7 below.

6. Compare

The various entries in the compare menu enable you to compare up to three items of a given type (book, author, keyword, language, original language (where translated), publication place, client, and profession). The result of such comparisons is a chart plotting copies exchanged against time - showing the trends of each item you are comparing for each year in the database. You can, of course, select an item from just one of the three drop-down menus, thereby bringing up a graph showing the trend of copies exchanged for that one item over time. You can also restrict your comparison by towns or any other place groupings of your choice.

7. Search

The search box will return a list of items (books, clients, or places) according to the criteria you specify. The search matches author names as well as book titles for books, and profession types as well as names for clients.

The search box also provides a link to the Advanced Edition Search. This search still returns a list of books (not editions), but searches data regarding individual editions for its matches.

8. Options

The best way to understand the options menu is to look at the detailed notes given on the options pages themselves. In general, the only thing to say is that these options allow you to hide a number of events from your queries, rankings, and comparisons, according to a range of criteria. For example, by hiding all male clients, you can investigate the female book trade; by hiding all French language editions, you can investigate the foreign language book trade; by hiding all legal editions, you can investigate the illegal book trade; and so on.

9. Help and Resources

The help and resources menu contains all the material needed to understand how this interface works. Its aim is also to provide resources and visualisations to grasp the complexity of the academic work undertaken by this project.