Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/311

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THE ENGLISH COPYRIGHT COMMISSION.

A. I published my first work, "Social Statics," at the end of 1850. Being a philosophical book, it was not possible to obtain a publisher who would undertake any responsibility, and I published it at my own cost. A publisher looks askance at philosophy, and especially the philosophy of a new man; hence I published on commission.

Q. Would you like to state what the result was?

A. The edition was 750; it took fourteen years to sell.

Q. Then with respect to your next work?

A. In 1855 I published the "Principles of Psychology;" I again tried in vain to get a publisher, and published again at my own cost. There were 750 copies, and the sale was very slow. I gave away a considerable number; the remainder, I suppose about 650, sold in twelve and a half years.

Q. Have you had any other similar cases?

A. Yes; I afterward, in 1857, published a series of Essays, and, warned by past results, I printed only 500. That took ten and a half years to sell. After that a second series of Essays and a little work on Education, which both had kindred results, but were not quite so long in selling. I should add that all these sales would have taken still longer but for the effect produced upon them by books published at a later period, which helped the earlier ones to sell.

Q. Have all these subsequent works to which you now refer been published in the same way?

A. No. Toward 1860 I began to be anxious to publish a "System of Philosophy," which I had been elaborating for a good many years. I found myself in the position of losing by all my books; and, after considering various plans, I decided upon the plan of issuing to subscribers in quarterly parts, and to the public in volumes when completed. Before the initial volume, "First Principles," was finished, I found myself still losing. During the issue of the second volume, the "Principles of Biology," I was still losing. In the middle of the third volume I was still losing so much, that I found I was frittering away all I possessed. I went back upon my accounts, and found that in the course of fifteen years I had lost nearly £1,200—adding interest, more than £1,200; and as I was evidently going on ruining myself, I issued to the subscribers a notice of cessation.

Q. Was that loss the difference between the money that you had actually spent in publishing the books and the money you had received in return?

A. Not exactly. The difference was between my total expenditure in publishing the books and living in the most economical way possible, and the total returns. That is to say, cutting down my expenses to the smallest amount, I lost £1,200 hy the inadequate returns, and trenched to that extent upon capital.

Q. But you continued afterward, did you not, to publish?

A. I continued afterward, simply, I may say, by accident. On two