Robert Darnton has spent more than a half century studying book distribution in pre-Revolutionary France, mainly in the extensive archives of a Swiss publishing house that did business throughout France during that era. A Literary Tour De France: The World of Books on the Eve of the French Revolution (Oxford University Press) draws on his research to detail the messy world of bookselling at the time — sellers with different degrees of legality, royal censorship, piracy (both metaphorical and literal), and complex trade agreements. Darnton frames this information with a tale about an industry inspection trip in France undertaken by an agent of the Swiss publisher.