On book dedications and patronage models: A very brief modern history

Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.”

–Dr. Johnson, Dictionary (1755)

Elizabethan Age: My dearest Baroness, You’re exquisite, but you know this already. Here are some sonnets. Your lowly servant.

Victorian Age: To my bourgie reader, A page-turner, the first volume, here in your hands. Juicy letters, swarthy Italians, and some real snobs to boot. Second volume to follow shortly. Cheers.

Baby Boomer Age: For Guggy hubby, NEH, Olin-ander, & Fordy: You’re my besties. See also University.

Internet Age: hi consumer, im a sweet ass brand. promote me cuz u luv me. click ‘buy me.’ xxoo

Some Questions Addressed to the Reader

Who funded Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary? How did Charles Dickens, always worried about going to the poorhouse, live off his base of subscribers? What institutions provided the financial support without which academics couldn’t have written massive scholarly tomes after World War II? And how does a book function in these branding days? To see how things might look in the early 21st C., you might check out the brand known as The Happiness Project. Not sure what it has to do with happiness, but then that may not be the point.

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