Anyone wanting to buy a book from a bookseller, rather than an occasional seller who, by definition, sold books when it suited the vendor rather than the consumer, had to know where to go to find them.  Outside London this was, perhaps, not particularly difficult.  Although there was marked growth over the period, even at the beginning of the seventeenth century most provincial centers had at least one bookshop.  These would be well known, with some located next to the churches and cathedrals whose clergy were regular customers.  Others were simply part of a shop which sold other things, notably grocers’.  Some of these shops, like the Foster bookshop in York, were considerable operations, but many more were smaller makeshift outlets.  That smaller urban centers had fewer bookshops, often just one, means that a bookseller ran considerable risks in supply illicit books.  But some clearly did, and sometimes in support of the puritan cause.  Thomas Smith, a Manchester stationer, was an active proponent of puritanism in the 1630s.  He was charged with attending conventicles and was known as “a hot zealot or a strict nonconformist,” and he used his shop to sell to the Manchester godly “divers Scottish and other schismatical books, containing in them…bitter invectives and railings against the government and discipline of the Church of England.”

From: Godly Reading: Print, Manuscript, and Puritanism in England, 1580-1720 by Andrew Camber; Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 193.

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