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The title page of a 1749 edition of John Cleland's erotic novel Fanny Hill, first published in London in 1748. It is one of the most frequently banned books in history.


Blend of book +‎ bootlegging, by analogy with bootlegging.



booklegging (uncountable)

  1. The illicit publication and distribution of banned books.
    • 1926, Hearings Held before the Committee on Patents, House of Representatives, Sixty-ninth Congress, First Session, on H.R. 10434, a Bill to Amend and Consolidate the Acts Respecting Copyright, and to Permit the United States to Enter the International Copyright Union. April 15, 16, 29, and 30, 1926, United States Congress, House Committee on Patents, page 125:
      I should like to suggest another term–booklegging.
    • 1927, The American Parade, volume 2, page 42:
      But the problem is more difficult in the case of booklegging, because you can only drink liquor once, but a book can be read by a hundred college boys, and will be, if it gets enough police-advertising.
    • 2010, Toni Samek, She was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West[1]:
      But nothing could have prepared me for the range of emotions that came over me when I found myself actually sitting in Tina's living room surrounded by all Celeste's papers, journals, pictures, clippings, files, stickers, artwork, magical items, booklegging tools, and cats.
    • 2016, Robert Spoo, Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain, page 154:
      When controversial books did manage to reach readers in the United States, they often did so without an American copyright, through underground channels of piracy or booklegging, disseminative practices that deprived authors of financial rewards and the power to control the quality and placement of their texts.

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