Blackwoods & its Edinburgh Monthly Magazine (9 April 2018)

Professor David Finkelstein - SPECIAL LECTURE

Japan Women's University, 18.30 Room 1022, Hyakunenkan

Turning Blackwood’s and its Edinburgh Monthly Magazine into a Profitable Business, 1817-1834

Professor David Finkelstein, University of Edinburgh Past accounts of Blackwood history have noted the radical overhaul of editorship and content that marked the relaunch of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in October 1817. None have remarked on the equally radical overhaul of the journal’s physical look and makeup, which involved a marked redesign of its cover and the expansion of its advertising supplements to promote Blackwood’s publishing endeavours and challenge competitor markets. How did the firm market the journal, and what strategic decisions did it take that enabled both its firm and its journal to move from local prominence to national dominance? This presentation examines the decisions taken under the directorship of William Blackwood I to reshape his firm’s business approaches, in the process moving its advertising beyond brief self-promotion to a more sophisticated positioning and ‘branding’ of the Blackwood firm and its magazine within contemporary publishing and literary contexts. It draws on ledger accounts and advertising revenue details to offer insight into the strategies used to expand and target the firm’s readership. It also examines rare examples of intact, monthly issues of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, published between 1817 and 1834, as well as contemporary single issues of competitor journals such as the Edinburgh Review, to suggest how economic and aesthetic judgements became intertwined in the production of the journal during this crucial period of its growth.

Professor David Finkelstein  is currently based at the University of Edinburgh, where he was until recently the Head of the Centre for Open Learning. Previous to that he was Dean of the School of Humanities at the University of Dundee. His research interests include media history, print culture and book history studies. His publications include The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era (2002), and the co- authored An Introduction to Book History (2005). He is also editor of Print Culture and the Blackwood Tradition, which was awarded the 2007 Robert Colby Scholarly Book Prize for the publication that year that most significantly advanced the understanding of the nineteenth-century periodical press.