Configuring the Book
University of St Andrews
 In Shakespeare in Print: A History and Chronology of Shakespeare Publishing, I mistakenly identify the 1675 edition as an octavo (308).
 Of the smaller format editions that survive as complete texts, only the 1627 octavo diverges from the text distribution of the quartos. This edition was printed by John Wreittoun in Edinburgh and the text is compressed into a smaller number of pages than in the other editions, thus reducing the production costs still further.
 The total includes the two sextodecimos already noted. The 1595 date for the first octavo is speculative: the surviving copy (Folger PR2749 .Y4 n.d.) lacks all before B1. I should note, of course, that “popular” is a relative term here. I use it in the sense that Peter Blayney and Alan Farmer and Zachary Lesser have used it in their seminal exchanges on the “popularity of playbooks,” by basically taking reprint rates as an index of popularity. It must be remembered, however, that literacy rates were low in the period and popularity is measured in sales of thousands, by contrast with the sales of hundreds of thousands that would characterize the successful editions of the nineteenth century. For Blayney, see “The Publication of Playbooks” and “The Alleged Popularity of Playbooks;” for Farmer and Lesser see “The Popularity of Playbooks Revisited” and “Structures of Popularity in the Early Modern Book Trade.”
 The 1655 edition was longer, as it included Quarles’ Banishment of Tarquin.
 The sonnets, interestingly, fail to match the pattern established by their predecessor poetic texts. Thorpe’s edition of 1609 was a quarto and Benson’s (very different) edition of 1640 followed the trend of downsizing to octavo, but no further edition of any kind—at least that we know of—appeared during the seventeenth century. It may possibly be that sonnet sequences were more subject to the vagaries of literary fashion than the narrative poems. (I am grateful to Faith Acker for raising this latter point; I am also indebted to her in my comments on the poems and “supplementarity,” below).
 See Greg 84, n. 4.
 There were two editions of Venus and Adonis in 1599. The other edition was printed by Richard Braddock, probably using the Short edition as copy.
 I should note, however, that the analogy with the poems is not exact here. Both Venus and Adonis and Lucrece appeared first in quarto then in octavo. Short’s edition of The True Tragedie was the first to be issued, so, strictly speaking, it did not represent a change in format. It is, however, a downsizing from the standard format for plays. And the arguments regarding cost do still, I think, more or less apply here, though not, of course, exactly. Short’s The True Tragedie takes up 80 pages; the quarto edition William White printed for Thomas Millington in 1600 runs to 64 pages. Short would have used fewer sheets to produce his edition, though not half the number of sheets subsequently used by White. Thus, there would have been savings, but they would not have been as great as those made on the poems.
 The way I have framed my argument implicitly suggests that the format choice in relation to The True Tragedie was made by Short and, more generally, that such decisions were made by printers. This may well not have been the case: it is quite possible (indeed, perhaps, even quite likely) that the publisher, rather than the printer, made this decision. In the case of The True Tragedie, the publisher was Thomas Millington. My greater point, however, is that someone is making format decisions that have an impact on textual access.
 I am, to some extent, imposing a contemporary judgment here: the fact that 3 Henry VI is little performed and little read in our own time does not necessarily mean that it need have been equally unpopular for an early-modern readership.
 In counting the plays I have included the variant texts, together with Pericles and Edward III. I have excluded editions of the apocrypha, such as Locrine and Sir John Oldcastle and A Shrew. I have also excluded the undated 1 Henry IV fragment and the possible 1597 edition of Love’s Labour’s Lost. The second quarto of Hamlet, with title pages variously dated “1604” and “1605,” has only been counted once.
 Only three editions appeared in the period: Merchant of Venice (1652 – a reissue of Q3, 1637), King Lear, and Othello (both 1655).
 For the pricing of F1, see Blayney, The First Folio of Shakespeare.
 See Eliot.
 For a comprehensive and thoroughly excellent account of Dicks’ editions, see Nelson. Nelson notes that, by 1864, Dicks was running a total of twelve steam presses and employing over a hundred people.
Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editors at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.
© 2013-, Annaliese Connolly and Matthew Steggle (Editors, EMLS).