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rocks till the gold glitters all over the the most difficult one carried on in the heap.
world. It demands qualities so seldom Messrs. Appleton, of New York, found in the same individual, that there have recently ventured to publish good has scarcely ever been an eminent and translations and good editions of Ma- stable publishing house which did not dame Mühlbach's historical novels. consist of several active and able men. The name of this lady being new to Failure is the rule, success the rare America, the enterprise was a risk,-a exception. The shores of the business risk of many thousand dollars, – a risk world are strewn thick with the wrecks which only a wealthy house would be of ventures in this line that gave every justified in assuming. The great ex- promise of bringing back a large re
. pense of such an untertaking is incur- turn. It has been proved a task bered in making the new name known, in yond the wisdom of mortals, to decide advertising it, in shouting it into the with any positive degree of certainty ears of a public deafened with a thou- whether a heap of blotted manuscript is sand outcries. An enormous sum of the most precious or the most worthless. money may easily be spent in this way, of all the productions of human induswhen advertising costs from twenty try. Young publishers think they can cents to two dollars a line. Suppose tell: old publishers know they cannot. the efforts of the publishers are suc- This is so true, that for a publisher to cessful, see how beautifully the present have a knowledge of the commodity system works! The more successful in which be deals is generally a point they are, the more perilous their prop- against his success as a publisher; and erty becomes ! It is safe only as long it will certainly ruin bim, unless he as it is worthless. Just as soon as they has a remarkably sound judgment, or a have, by the expenditure of unknown good, solid, unlearned partner, whose thousands, created for the works of this intuitive sense of what the public wants German lady a steady demand, which is unbiased by tastes of his own. promises to recompense them, they are It is this terrible uncertainty as to open to the inroads of the Knights of the value of the commodity purchased, the Yellow Cover! See, too, the effects which renders publishing a business so upon the Berlin authoress. Playing difficult, precarious, and unprofitable ; such a dangerous and costly game as and the higher the character of the this, the American publisher dare not literature, the greater the difficulty becannot treat with her in the only proper comes. Publishers who confine themand honorable way, open a fair bar- selves chiefly to works of utility and gain, so much for so much. Messrs. necessity, or to works professional and Appleton did themselves the honor, sectarian, have an easy task to perform the other day, to send her a thousand compared with that of a publisher who dollars, gold, which was an act as wise aims to supply the public with pure as it was right. We enjoyed an exqui-, science and high literature. If any site pleasure in looking upon the lovely business can claim favorable considerdocument, duly stamped and authen. ation from those who have in charge ticated, which has ere this given her a the distribution of the public burdens, claim upon a Berlin banker; and we have surely it is this. If in any way its also a prodigious happiness in commit- perils can be justly diminished by law, ting the impropriety of making the fact surely that protection ought not to be public. Nevertheless, it is not thus withheld. We believe it could be that authors should be paid for their shown that the business of publishing own. All we can say of it is, that it what the trade calls “miscellaneous is better than nothing to her, and the books," i. e. books which depend solely best a publisher can do under the cir- upon their intrinsic interest or merit, cumstances.
yields a smaller return for the capital This business of publishing books is and talent invested in it than any other.
The Harpers have a grand establish- hand the precise article which he proment, -- one of the wonders of Amer
poses to reproduce, a printed volica. Any one going over that assem- ume, which he can read with ease and blage of enormous edifices, and observ- rapicity; and this is nearly as great ing the multitude of men and women an advantage as a manager has wito employed in them, the vast and far- a play performed before buyreaching enterprises going forward, - ing it. He has the still greater adsome of which involve a large expendi- vantage of a public verdict upon the ture for years before any return is possi- book. It has been tried upon a public; ble, + the great numbers of men of abil- and it is a rule almost without exception, ity, learning, and experience who are su- that a book which sells largely in one perintending the various departments, country will not fail in another. Dickand the amazing quantities of merchan- ens, Thackeray, Reade, Miss Mulock, dise produced, the mere catalogue of Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Duwhich is a large volume, -any one, we mas, Hugo, George Sand, have in all say, observing these things, would nat foreign countries a popularity which urally conclude, that the proprietors bears a certain proportion to that which must be in the receipt of Vanderbiltian they enjoy in their own; and even the incomes. The same amount of capital, Chinese novel published some years force, experience, and talent employed ago in England was a safe speculation, in any other branch of business could because it was universally popular in not fail to put the incomes of the pro- China. The Russian novel before alprietors high up among those which re- luded to was a prudent enterprise, bequire six figures for their expression. cause Russia had previously tasted and Compare the returns of these monarchs enjoyed it. Literature of high character of the “trade” with those of our dryis always pervaded with the essence of goods magnates, and our mighty men the nationality which produced it, but it in cotton, tobacco, and railroads. A is, for that very reason, the more interestdealer in dry-goods in the city of New ing to other nations. Don Quixote has York has returned as the income of a more Spain in it than all the histories of single year a sum half as large as the Spain; but in the library of the German whole capital invested in the establish collector of Cervantes, whose death has ment of the Harpers. If the signal suc been recently announced, there were cesses of publishing -- successes which more than twice as many foreign ediare the result of the rarest conjunctions tions as Spanish. According to the of talent, capital, experience, and oppor- Pall Mall Gazette, there were 400 editunity -- are represented by incomes of tions in Spanish, 168 in French, 200 in twenty and thirty thousand paper dol- English, 87 in Portuguese, 96 in Itallars a year, what must be the general ian, 70 in German, 4 in Russian, 4 in condition of the trade? But it is the Greek, 8 in Polish, 6 in Danish, 13 in difficulty of conducting the business at Swedish, and 5 in Latin. Poor Cerall, not the slenderness of its profits, vantes ! How eloquently this list pleads upon which we now desire the reader for International Copyright! to reflect. That difficulty, we repeat, It is, then, in the republication of arises from the fact that a publisher foreign works that our publishers ought buys his pig in a poke. He generally to find an element of certainty, which knows not, and cannot know, whether cannot appertain to the publication of wbat he buys is worth much, little, or original and untried productions. But nothing
it is precisely here that chaos reigns. but there is one branch of his busi- In the issue of native works, there is ness which does not present this diffi- but a single uncertainty ; in the repubculty, — the reprinting of works previ- lication of foreign, there are many. No cusly published in a foreign country. man knows what his rights are ; nor He has the advantage of holding in his whether he has any rights; nor whether
there are any rights ; nor, if he has other, - if foreign literature is the lerights, whether they will be respected. gitimate spoil of America, — then some This chaos has taken to itself the pleas- such code as this would be the only ant and delusive name of " Courtesy of method of preventing the business from the i rade." Belore the “ reign on law uegeneraung inw a game or unmitigated is established in any province of human grab. In its present ill-defined and affairs, we generally see men feeling most imperfect state, this system of their way to it, trying to find something “ courtesy” scarcely mitigates the game else that will answer the purpose, en- at all; and, accordingly, in the trade," deavoring to reduce the chaos of con- instead of the friendly feeling that ficting claims to some kind of rule. would naturally exist among honorable The publishers of the United States men in the highest branch of business, have been doing this for many years, we find feuds, heart-burnings, and a and the result is the unwritten code grievous sense of wrongs unredressed called the Courtesy of the Trade, – a and unredressable. Some houses “ancode defective in itself, with neither nounce” everything that is announced judge to expound it, jury to decide up- on the other side of the Atlantic, so as on it, nor sheriff to execuie it. This to have the first choice. Smaller firms, code consisted at first of one rule, - If seeing these announcements, dare not a publisher issues a foreign work, no undertake any foreign work, even though other American publisher shall issue it. the great house never decides to publish But it often happened that two or three the book upon which the smaller had publishers began or desired to begin fixed its attention. It is only under the the printing of the same book. To meet reign of law that the rights of the weak this and other cases, other laws were have any security. In the most exquiadded, until at present the code, as laid sitely organized system of piracy, no down by the rigorists, consists of the man can rely upon the enjoyment of a following rules :
right which he is not strong enough 1. If a publisher issues an edition personally to defend. It is not every of a foreign work, he has acquired an house that can crush a rival edition by exclusive right to it for a period un- selling thousands of expensive books defined.
at half their cost. Between the giant 2. If a publisher is the first to an houses that tower above him, and the nounce his intention to publish a for- yellow.covered gentry that prowl about eign work, that announcement gives his feet, an American publisher of only him an exclusive right to publish it. ordinary resources bas a game to play
3. If a publisher has already issued which is really too difficult for the lima work of a foreign author, he has ac- ited capacities of man. Who can wonquired thereby an exclusive right to der that most of them lose it? the republication of all subsequent One effect of this courtesy system is, works by the same author.
that many excellent works, which it 4. The purchase of advance sheets would be a public benefit to have refor publication in a periodical gives a printed here are not reprinted. Anpublisher the exclusive right to pub- other is, that corrected or improved lish the same in any other form. editions cannot be given to the Amer
5. All and several of these rights ican reader without bringing down upmay be bought and sold, like any other on the publisher the enmity or the venkind of property
geance of a rival. It is not common There is a kind of justice in all these in Europe for the first editions of imrules. If we could concede that a for- portant works to be stereotyped; but eign author has no ownership of the in America they always are. The Eucoinage of his brain, – if anything but ropean author frequently makes extenthat author's free gift or purchased con- sive additions and valuable emendasent could convey that property to an- tions in each successive edition ; until, in the course of years, his work is The omission to answer the author's essentially different from, and far supe- letter, we may assume, was accidental. rior to the first essay. We cannot It is not correct to say that the pubhave the advantage of the improved lishers founded their claim to issue the version. There is a set of old and new edition upon their payment of worn stereotype plates in the way, the twenty-five pounds. The real difficulty proprietor of which will not sacrifice was, that Messrs. Appleton possessed them, nor permit another publisher to the plates of the first edition, and could produce the corrected edition, which not issue the enlarged edition without, would as completely destroy their value first, destroying a property already exas though they were melted into type isting, and, secondly, creating a new metal. Who can blame him? No one property at an expenditure about four likes to have a valuable property sud- times as great as the sum originally indenly rendered valueless. “It is not vested. The acceptance of Mr. Lewes's human nature.” Mr. Lewes is not jus- offer would have involved an expenditified in so bitterly reproaching Messrs. ture of several thousand dollars, at a Appleton for their cold entertainment time when, for a variety of reasons, of his offer to them of the enlarged ver- works of that character could hardly be sion of his “ History of Philosophy." expected to return the outlay upon them.
“I felt,” says Mr. Lewes, “that The exclusive and certain ownership of Messrs. Appleton, of New York, had, the work might well justify its republiin courtesy, a prior claim, on the ground cation, even now, when it costs exactly of their having reprinted the previous three times as much to manufacture a edition in 1857. Accordingly I wrote book in the United States as it did to them, through their London agent, seven years ago. But nothing short stating that I considered they had a of this would warrant a publisher in unclaim to the first offer, and stating, fur- dertaking it. The real sinners, against ther, that the new edition was substan- whom Mr. Lewes should have launched tially a new book. [As this is an im- his sarcasm, are the people of the Unitportant element in the present case, ed States, who permit their instructors, allow me to add, that the edition of both native and foreign, to be robbed 1857 was in one volume 8vo, published of their property with impunity. Thus at sixteen shillings, whereas the new we see that a few hundred pounds of edition is in two volumes 8vo, published metal are likely to bar the entrance at thirty shillings; and the work is so among us of a work which demonstrates, considerably altered and enlarged that in the clearest and most attractive mana new title has been affixed to it, for ner, the inutility of all that has hitherto the purpose of marking it off from its gone by the name of “metaphysics," predecessors.] Questions of courtesy and which also indicates the method of are, however, but ill understood by some investigation from which good results people, and by Messrs. Appleton so ill are to be rationally hoped for. understood that they did not even an- It is the grossest injustice to hold swer my letter. After waiting more American publishers responsible for than three months for an answer, 1 the system of ill-regulated plunder asked a friend to see their London agent which they have inherited, and which on the subject, and thus I learned that injures them more immediately and Messrs. Appleton-risum teneatis, ami palpably than any other class, except. ci? - considered they had a right to ing alone the class producing the publish all future editions of my work commodity in which they deal. There without payment,' because ten years are no business men more honorable ago they had given the magnificent sum or more generous than the publishers of twenty-five pounds to secure them- of the United States, and especially selves against rivals for the second edi, honorable and considerate are they totion.”
ward authors. The relation usually
existing between author and publisher We are equally confident that Messrs. in the United States is that of a warm Harper felt themselves completely jusand lasting friendship, — such as that tified in endeavoring to crush the which subsisted for so many years Diamond Edition of Thackeray. All between Irving and Putnam, and this chaos and uncertainty, all these which now animates and dignifies the feuds and enmities, have one and the intercourse between the literary men same cause, – the existence in the of New England and Messrs. Tick- world of a kind of property which is nor and Fields, and which gathers in at once the most precious, the easiest the well-known room of the Harpers stolen, and the worst protected. a host of writers who are attached Almost to a man, our publishers are friends of the “ House.” The rela- in favor of an International Copyright. tion, too, is one of a singular mutual We have been able to hear of but trustfulness. The author receives his
one exception, and this is the publishsemiannual account from the publish- er of but one book,— Webster's Dicer with as absolute a faith in its cor- tionary, — the work of all others now rectness as though he had himself in existence that would profit most counted the volumes sold ; and the from just protection in foreign counpublisher consigns the manuscript of tries. There is an impression in the established author to the printer many circles that the Harpers are opalmost without opening it, confident posed to it. We are enabled to state, that, whether it succeeds or fails, the upon the authority of a member of author has done his best. We have that great house, that this is not now, heard of instances in which a pub- and never has been, the case. Messrs. lisher had serious cause of complaint Harper comprehend, as well as we against an author, but never have we do, that they would gain more from known an author to be intentionally the measure than any other house in wronged by a publisher. We have the world; because it is the natural known a publisher, in the midst of effect of law, while it protects the the ruin of his house, to make it one weak, to legitimate and establish the of the first objects of his care to save dominion of the strong. International authors from loss, or make their in- Copyright would benefit every creature evitable losses less. How common, connected with publishing, but it would too, it is in the trade for a publisher benefit most of all the great and wealthy to go beyond the letter of his bond, houses. The Harpers have spent tens and, after publishing five books with-' of thousands in enforcing the observout profit, to give the author of the ance of the courtesy of the trade, but successful sixth more than the stipu- they cannot enforce it. It is a work lated price! Let every one speak of never done and always beginning. It the market as he finds it. For our cost them four hundred of our ridicu. part, after fifteen years of almost daily lous dollars for the advance sheets intercourse with publishers, we have of each number of Mr. Dickens's last no recollections of them that are not novel ; and within forty-eight hours agreeable, and can call to mind no of the publication of the Magazine transaction in which they did not show containing it, two other editions were themselves to be men of honor as for sale under their noses. The matter much as men of business. · We have for “Harper's Magazine” often costs not the least doubt that Mr. Peter- three or four thousand dollars a numson honestly thought he had acquired ber; can any one suppose that the a right, by fair purchase, to sell the proprietors like to see Blackwood and property of Charles Dickens in the half a dozen other British magazines United States as long as he should sold all over the country at a little continue in business, and then to dis- more than the cost of paper and printpose of that right to his successor. ing? They like it as little as the pro