The bureaucracy of modern publishing presented the biggest obstacles to the publication of books during the Siege of Paris. Readers demanded books, pamphlets, and manifestos about their present situation as quickly as possible. Modernity couldn’t keep up. To satisfy this demand, smaller, upstart printers began producing books in basements, courtyards, and living rooms, side-stepping the complicated publishing practices inherent to the modern publishing industry. The Société des gens de lettres, an author-advocacy group, found itself struggling against the very networks of publishers, printers, editors, agents and authors that made publishing so profitable. While the organization did offer literary events in Paris during the Siege, it also threatened to sue newspapers that published unattributed poetry or other literary texts and fought for author’s rights at a moment when there was little to no recourse for such legal action. Disrupting the very networks that made literature such good business, the Siege effectively threw the industry back a hundred years.
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