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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

15 - Coffeehouses and Print Shops

from Part II - Personae and Sites of Natural Knowledge
Experimental philosophy came to prominence on a wave of coffee. Paris coffeehouses were reputedly premises of rare elegance, and those of Amsterdam rivaled London's as centers for gossip and conversation. By the time coffee arrived in London, print had been there for almost two hundred years. By the mid-sixteenth century, print was already transforming the character of the book itself. The "printing revolution" that ensued, however, was to be at least as important in qualitative and practical as in sheer quantitative terms. The best bookshops and printing houses tended to cluster in discrete locations in major cities, such as St. Paul's Churchyard in London or the Rue S. Jacques in Paris. Rand's proposal was for collective action by natural philosophers to reform a print culture that was itself a collective creation. With its periodical, the Athenian Mercury, outselling all others, Dunton's society epitomized the alliance between print and coffeehouse.
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