An incredibly detailed directory of domestic and foreign periodicals, newspapers, magazines, etc...often including a small paragraph of information for each title. The aim of the editor was to produce a publication which would give companies a comprehensive guide, informing them which newspapers, magazines, etc., would best suit their interests to advertise in.
"There is no more startling proof of the enormous progress of mankind during the last half century than may be found by an examination of the columns of the newspapers and other periodicals published in various countries. London, with a population of 4,000,000, takes precedence of all other great cities in its list of periodical publications. These have an annual circulation of about 1,017,000,000. Paris, with its far smaller population, issues periodicals which have an annual circulation of 1,100,000,000 copies. New York and Brooklyn, with a population nearly two-thirds that of Paris, produce publications with an annual circulation of about 516,000,000...This condition of things, and the enormous growth of enterprise, no less than the craving for intelligence, make newspapers a necessity in every civilised community. In the great centres of activity the daily newspaper is an epitome of the events that are happening in every portion of the globe"--Henry Sell (1886, pp. 18-19).
"Sell's Dictionary of the World's Press, including a Register of British Periodical Literature and 'Philosophy of Advertising' is an exceedingly useful book. It is a brief guide to all the newspapers in this country, and to the newspapers generally throughout the world. It is a handy reference book for the general public and for journalists; but it lays itself out mainly to be exceptionally and exhaustively useful to advertisers. It is, in fact, the advertiser's text book and guide. The editor provides a quantity of advice to advertisers; he gives district maps planned out with a view to help the advertiser; he explains the law of the newspaper press with special reference to the advertiser"--(Saturday Review, 8 Mar 1884).