From 1782 to 1801, Great Britain supplied the
preliminary investment that got the trade off the ground and the texts
Americans published. The London was the epicenter of English-language book
culture and America was nowhere near the same level. The purposefulness of the
American book trade was to replace British imports with its own publication of
the same editions. However, it turned out to be a challenging objective to accomplish.
Aitken claimed he was nearly ruined by the venture, because he was paid in
worthless paper money and because the advent of peace precipitated an avalanche
of cheap imported Bibles. British merchants continued to dump books in America
for the rest of the 1780s as the American economy collapsed. In Philadelphia, Thomas
Dobson a Scotland native with large stocks of books. He quickly became major
bookseller, but as he sold his books, instead of investing their profit in more
books, he embarked on publishing, using his stock as security for additional
loans. His first large venture was appropriately the first American edition of
Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1788. To undersell imports
the original London quarto.