Across the vast land areas with low population and deserts, caravans have slowly moved product between markets. Even today a salt route runs across the Sahara. Where silk and spices once travelled by camel train from Asia, they now travel by air or on huge container ships. The authors of the sections making up this book have traced all of the stages of development and the differing approaches as the world population has grown and civilizations have come and gone. This is a history that deserves to be understood by all and this beautifully illustrated book makes an enjoyable task of understanding.
NAME: Great Trade Routes
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Editor Philip Parker
PUBLISHER: Conway Maritime, Anova
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Land Trade Routes, Sea Trade Routes, caravans, Spice Road, Atlantic conveyor, Silk Road, East Indies, West Indies, trade monopolies, Gold ships, sugar trade, ivory trade
DESCRIPTION: This review was an experiment, taking a book as a set of PDF electronic files, from which a traditional paper book is printed. It highlights some of the challenges publishers face in designing book layouts and considering primary markets.
This book can be regarded both as a coffee table book and as a serious history of the way that trade has been conducted and goods moved from producer to market. As a printed paper volume, the layout works very well. Conway has a reputation for high quality production of printed paper hard bound books. As with this title, great use has been made of illustration and colour has been used through the book. Paintings, drawings, maps, and photographs have been used in illustration. This includes the use of high quality full colour images as a two page or single page spread with part of the image forming a background that is partly over-written with text. In a large format hard bound printed paper book, this works well and allows the most to be made of some stunning and evocative images. Reading as a pdf file is far less effective. For the review, the electronic files were displayed on a typical 22 inch LCD computer workstation screen and on a 10.1 inch tablet. Where a two page spread image was used, the effect was completely lost because a two page screen presentation requires the display at a reduced percentage zoom. To view the full spread, the text is then unreadable and zoom-in is necessary to bring it to a readable font size. Equally, a single page display has to run at 63% to display as a complete page. The result is that the layout used effectively for a printed paper large format book works poorly as an electronic PDF file.
As the publisher intends this book to be read as a printed paper volume on heavy gloss paper with quality hard cover binding and full colour dust jacket, the restrictions of reviewing from electronic files is not immediately important to a reader. The importance is in the longer term. During the last decade, print production costs have risen but the major increase in publishing costs has been in postage and general freight costs. As bookshops attempt to tightly control inventory costs, there has been a growing tendency to purchase new titles in smaller quantities and seek to return unsold copies to the publisher for a full refund. This places great pressure on a publisher. As a result, publishers increasingly seek to offer books direct to the public from an Internet website or portal. Some publishers offer heavy discounts and readers can save on the cover price, even after paying post and packing charges where these are added. Where traditionally a publisher such as Conway/Anova has estimated the market and ordered a print run, any continuing demand has prompted a reprinting, but a failure to sell all stock has resulted in remaining stock being pulped. Today, publishers are increasingly turning to PrintOnDemand from an electronic master to maintain availability of special interest books, and also considering the sale as an eBook. This significantly reduces the cost of production and storage and the eBook edition presents no noticeable cost of transmission. The difficulty is that most eBook distribution is based on the EPUB format, which works well for text-only novels but does not handle images, particularly large numbers of high definition images, very well. The impact of Expresso in-store PrintOnDemand books has yet to be seen and the printing techniques currently do not provide quality books with lavish illustration very effectively. This presents challenges for writer, publisher and reader. There comes a point where art quality printed paper books as so specialist that the per volume cost will be firmly in the luxury market.
This book is an example of how effectively an extensive history can be covered and illustrated. There is no direct substitute for the printed paper edition until such time as electronic display systems can really mimic the quality of full colour gloss paper books. In this book an editor has blended what are effectively detailed articles from leading historians and transport commentators to produce a book that not only covers the spread of known history of the transport systems employed across the globe, but provides a wealth of illustration that lifts the text to a new level. It is difficult to think of any question that is not answered eloquently by the contributors and editor.
The story starts in the period when first histories were being recorded and continues to the present day. Trade has always formed the cornerstone to civilization because it provides a means of turning surplus into advantage. That surplus has made it possible for generations to build on the skills of those who went before and to devote time to invention and discovery. Goods have been transported by land and by rivers and seas since the first people developed from hunter gatherers and learned to build surpluses that could tide them through times of famine. Having a surplus has always meant that it can ensure subsistence and allow part of the surplus to be traded for product that does not exist locally. Even from ancient times, trade routes have covered great distances, linking all of the parts of the known world. As new worlds were discovered, new trade routes rapidly established. Some trade routes specialized in spices, silk, ivory, gold, specialist products and produce. Other trade routes were more catholic and delivered a wide range of products and materials.
As the book observes, trade is now in a new golden age. The availability of many different transport systems, with different cost structures, and different speeds, anything, however perishable, can be transported around the world to new markets and food products are freed from seasons because there is always somewhere where anything can be grown when it is out of season on the other side of the world.
Across the vast land areas with low population and deserts, caravans have slowly moved product between markets. Even today a salt route runs across the Sahara. Where silk and spices once travelled by camel train from Asia, they now travel by air or on huge container ships. The authors of the sections making up this book have traced all of the stages of development and the differing approaches as the world population has grown and civilizations have come and gone. This is a history that deserves to be understood by all and this book makes an enjoyable task of understanding.