Periodicals and book post in the British Empire

David Schorr's picture

Following Tamar's question and your helpful answers, I have a question which has come up in my research on the history of a legal journal printed in London from 1894 to 1951, and distributed around the world (and particularly in the British Empire):

How did book post from Britain to the Empire and beyond work? More specifically:

1) Was book post as fast as regular letter post? Postal histories talk about the time it took for letters to get from Britain to India, for instance. Would copies of a journal have travelled have quickly?

2) Where might I be able to find information on the cost of sending book post abroad?

3) In general, the secondary literature I have found on postal history in the British Empire is focused on letters. Is there any good secondary literature on book post, or more specificially on the postal distribution of periodicals?

Any help you could give me would be most appreciated.


David Schorr

Hi David,

For information on the cost of sending books abroad I would begin with the British Postal Guides for the years you are interested in. Some of them also have estimated duration of arrival, but as far as I know these are for letters and parcels. I have managed to find some available copies online, and would be glad to forward the relevant ones on to you, if you like. Just drop me a line :

Good luck with the rest!