This study examines the nature of eighteenth-century book subscription lists: how they worked and the role they played in the eighteenth century book trade. It also analyzes specific lists and how they may be used as exemplars for those wishing to investigate and analyse other lists. From eighteenth century book subscription lists we can learn much about the reading public, who bought books and why. But the lists may also provide information about many other aspects of society and culture. This is an area where there has been little sustained study in the past and this work ties together what has been done and adumbrates what may potentially be done in the future. It will appeal to scholars and students alike who are interested in any aspect of eighteenth century life and art, not only those focusing on the book trade.