Discussion of Account Book 38

Account Book volume 38 has some 1,100 entries, and records receipts of all types. Some, such as the property tax payments for Matthew and Henry Carey, or a deliquent tailor's bill for Matthew Carey, are strictly personal. The breakdown of all receipts in volume 38 is as follows:

DescriptionTotal DollarsPercent of Total
Paper Manufacturers and Stores$45,118.9527.42%
Printing, Misc.$22,659.3013.77%
Payments to Authors$18,348.68 11.15%
Rent$3,782.68 2.30%
Employees$2,672.66 1.62%
Loan Maintenance and Insurance$2,459.27 1.49%
Taxes$2,366.48 1.44%
Merchants$1,537.41 0.93%
Advertising$365.45 0.22%
Postage$183.40 0.11%

Although the costs of paper rank highest, it is the combined category of payments to printers and to "Printing, Misc." that takes almost 36% of the dollar value of these receipts. Miscellaneous printing costs are defined here as payments for stereotyping, lithography, engraving, bookbinding, and book stitching.

These "miscellaneous" printing costs are in actuality the tools Carey & Lea used to enhance the value of their product. By improving the packaging of books -- their look, feel, illustration, and decoration -- they worked to broaden their market beyond those persons who would be interested solely in content. Further research probably would show the growth of this category from the 1820's to the 1840's, as books are pitched more toward a mass audience. By incorporating many of these embellishments, the Christmas annuals pioneered this trend.

One cost which is striking in its near-absence is that for postage and freight., but this is readily explained: at the time, in general, the recipient paid for shipments. Most of the costs for freight were to shippers of books overseas, as Carey & Lea kept a steady, if small, trade with locations as exotic as Canton, China, and Calcutta, India.

The majority of the payees were identifiable through Philadelphia city directories,(19) and were Philadelphia-based; most of their offices were within blocks of Carey's office at 4th and Walnut. This was true not only of his business contacts, but also many of the authors lived in Philadelphia, particularly the authors of the professional works Carey & Lea published (generally works of law and medicine).

The significant bulge of costs visible in the charts around December are consistent with the explanation that Carey & Lea was printing for a Christmas season. The pre-Christmas bulge(20) would be bills paid with cash-on-hand, as many bills, presumably, as would be prudent. The rash of post-Christmas receipts would be the payment of outstanding bills, using revenues being returned from Christmas sales. There naturally would be delays in payments due to transportation, processing, etc., adding perhaps a week or more to the time between the sending of the the bill and recording its payment.

To study book production itself, it is logical to separate the costs most directly related to the making of the product itself -- costs which are above steady, maintenance expenses such as wages, rent, or taxes. In this case, these are payments made to paper manufacturers and suppliers, printers, and the other printing-related expenses. The charts graphically demonstrate the Christmas production bulge, particularly the charts for September 1833 to September 1834, and September 1835 to April 1836.

Statistically, the Christmas season was a significant time. For the September 1833 to 1834 period, payments for paper and the various costs of printing in the Christmas season totaled 47.6% of the total year's payments ($15,354.34 of $32,248.56) -- far more than the 33.3% an even distribution would have predicted (for four months out of twelve). For September 1834 to September 1835, Christmas season payments to those sources totaled 22.7% of the total ($9,159.43 of 40,239.15), but this, again, was a slack year. The last period, from September 1835 to April 1836, is only a partial year; consequently, the following partial year comparisons are given:

Sept 1833-Sept 1834 Sept 1834-Sept 1835 Sept 1835-April 1836
Sept thru April:   Sept thru April:   Sept thru April:  
$21,510.63  $18,101.89   $32,113.41  
Nov. Through Feb. III:   Nov. Through Feb. III:   Nov. thru Feb III:  
$15,354.34 71.38% $9,159.4350.60% $16,372.2550.98%