Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/312

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298
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

previous occasions, in the course of those fifteen years, I had been enabled to persevere, spite of losses, by bequests. On this third occasion, after the issue of the notice, property which I inherit came to me in time to prevent the cessation.

Q. May I ask how long it took before you began to be repaid for your losses?

A. My losses did not continue very long after that: the tide turned, and my books began to pay. I have calculated what length of time it has taken to repay my losses, and find they were repaid in 1874; that is to say, in twenty-four years after I began I retrieved my position.

Q. Then the commission understand that your books are now remunerative?

A. They are now remunerative, and for this reason: As I have explained, I had to publish on commission. Commission is a system which, throwing all the cost upon the author, is very disastrous for him if his books do not pay, and, as you see in this case, has been very disastrous to me; but when they do pay it is extremely advantageous, inasmuch as in that case the publisher who does the business takes only ten per cent., and the whole of the difference between cost and proceeds, minus that ten per cent., comes to the author. I have calculated what are my actual returns, on two uppositions. I have ascertained the percentage I get upon 1,000 copies, supposing that I set up the type solely for that 1,000 copies—supposing, that is, that the cost of composition comes into the cost. In that case I reap 30¾ per cent. But I reap much more. I was sanguine enough, when I began this series of books, to stereotype. The result is, that now I simply have to print additional thousands as they are demanded. If I suppose the cost of composition and stereotyping to have been paid for in the first edition, and only estimate the cost of paper and printing in the successive editions, then I am reaping 41¾ per cent. The actual percentage, of course, is one which lies between those two; but year by year, with each additional thousand, I approach more nearly to the limit of 41¾ per cent. I should point out that the result of this is that I receive, as may be supposed, a considerable return upon the moderate numbers sold.

Q. And that being so, can you tell the commission what in your opinion would have happened had there been in existence a system under which three years, say, after date of publication any one could have reprinted your books, paying you a royalty of ten per cent.?

A. The result would have been that my losses would not have been repaid now. After twenty-six years' work I should still have been out of pocket; and should be out of pocket for many years to come.

Q. (Mr. Trollope). Under such a system do you think that you would ever have recovered that money?

A. I am taking it on the most favorable supposition, merely supposing that all other things but percentage had remained the same.

Q. (Chairman). Assuming the system of royalty to be in existence,