The Purloined Letter Historical Context

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The Mass-Market Publishing Industry in America

In the mid-1820s, Poe was one of many writers on the East Coast submitting his works to the growing mass-market publishing industry. Better transportation and improvements in paper production and printing technologies led to the establishment of several newspapers, magazines, and book publishers, and writers and editors clamored to be a part of it.

In these early years of publishing, American authors were unprotected by any strict copyright legislation, something for which writers like Poe lobbied heavily. Because writers could not protect their works from being plagiarized or reprinted without their permission, they realized that the value of their works would drop after the first printing. As a result, many authors guarded their unpublished works closely, so that they could negotiate higher payments for the initial publication.

Poe mocked this trend in his story, "The Purloined...

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This section contains 586 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Short Stories for Students
The Purloined Letter from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.