On Combinations Of Masters Against The Public

376. A species of combination occasionally takes place

amongst manufacturers against persons having patents: and these

combinations are always injurious to the public, as well as

unjust to the inventors. Some years since, a gentleman invented a

machine, by which modellings and carvings were cut in mahogany,

and other fine woods. The machine resembled, in some measure, the

drilling apparatus employed in ornamental lathe
; it produced

beautiful work at a very moderate expense: but the cabinetmakers

met together, and combined against it, and the patent has

consequently never been worked. A similar fate awaited a machine

for cutting veneers by means of a species of knife. In this

instance, the wood could be cut thinner than by the circular saw,

and no waste was incurred; but 'the trade' set themselves against

it, and after a heavy expense, it was given up.

The excuse alleged for this kind of combination, was the fear

entertained by the cabinetmakers that when the public became

acquainted with the article, the patentee would raise the price.

Similar examples of combination seem not to be unfrequent, as

appears by the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on

Patents for Inventions, June, 1829. See the evidence of Mr


377. There occurs another kind of combination against the

public, with which it is difficult to deal. It usually ends in a

monopoly, and the public are then left to the discretion of the

monopolists not to charge them above the growling point--that

is, not to make them pay so much as to induce them actually to

combine against the imposition. This occurs when two companies

supply water or gas to consumers by means of pipes laid down

under the pavement in the street of cities: it may possibly occur

also in docks, canals, railroads, etc., and in other cases where

the capital required is very large, and the competition very

limited. If water or gas companies combine, the public

immediately loses all the advantage of competition, and it has

generally happened, that at the end of a period during which they

have undersold each other, the several companies have agreed to

divide the whole district supplied, into two or more parts, each

company then removing its pipes from all the streets except those

in its own portion. This removal causes great injury to the

pavement, and when the pressure of increased rates induces a new

company to start, the same inconvenience is again produced.

Perhaps one remedy against evils of this kind might be, when a

charter is granted to such companies, to restrict, to a certain

amount, the rate of profit on the shares, and to direct that any

profits beyond, shall accumulate for the repayment of the

original capital. This has been done in several late Acts of

Parliament establishing companies. The maximum rate of profit

allowed ought to be liberal, to compensate for the risk; the

public ought to have auditors on their part, and the accounts

should be annually published, for the purpose of preventing the

limitations from being exceeded. It must however be admitted,

that this would be an interference with capital, which, if

allowed, should, in the present state of our knowledge, be.

examined with great circumspection in each individual case, until

some general principle is established on well-admitted grounds.

378. An instrument called a gas-meter, which ascertains the

quantity of gas used by each consumer, has been introduced, and

furnishes a satisfactory mode of determining the payments to be

made by individuals to the gas companies. A contrivance somewhat

similar in its nature, might be used for the sale of water; but

in that case some public inconvenience might be apprehended, from

the diminished quantity which would then run to waste: the

streams of water running through the sewers in London, are

largely supplied from this source; and if this supply were

diminished, the drainage of the metropolis might be injuriously


379. In the north of England a powerful combination has long

existed among the coal-owners, by which the public has suffered

in the payment of increased price. The late examination of

evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, has

explained its mode of operation, and the Committee have

recommended, that for the present the sale of coal should be left

to the competition of other districts.

380. A combination, of another kind, exists at this moment to

a great extent, and operates upon the price of the very pages

which are now communicating information respecting it. A subject

so interesting to every reader, and still more so to every

manufacturer ofthe article which the reader consumes, deserves an

attentive examination.

We have shown in Chapter XXI, p. 144, the component parts of

the expense of each copy of the present work; and we have seen

that the total amount of the cost of its production, exclusive of

any payment to the author for his labour, is 2s. 3d.(1*)

Another fact, with which the reader is more practically

familiar, is that he has paid, or is to pay, to his bookseller,

six shillings for the volume. Let us now examine into the

distribution of these six shillings, and then, having the facts

ofthe case before us, we shall be better able to judgeofthe

meritsofthe combinationjust mentioned, andtoexplainits effects.

Distribution of the profits on a six shilling book

Buys at; Sells at; Profit on capital expended

s. d.; s. d.

No. I--The publisher who accounts to the author for every copy

received; 3 10; 4 2; 10 per cent

No. II--The bookseller who retails to the public; 4 2; 6 0; 44

Or, 4 6; 6 0; 33 1/3

No. I, the publisher, is a bookseller; he is, in fact, the

author's agent. His duties are, to receive and take charge of the

stock, for which he supplies warehouse room; to advise the author

about the times and methods of advertising; and to insert the

advertisements. As he publishes other books, he will advertise

lists of those sold by himself; and thus, by combining many in

one advertisement, diminish the expense to each of his

principals. He pays the author only for the books actually sold;

consequently, he makes no outlav of capital, except that which he

pays for advertisements: but he is answerable for any bad debts

he may contract in disposing of them. His charge is usually ten

per cent on the returns.

No. II is the bookseller who retails the work to the public.

On the publication of a new book, the publisher sends round to

the trade, to receive 'subscriptions' from them for any number of

copies not less than two These copies are usually charged to the

'subscribers', on an average, at about four or five per cent less

than the wholesale price of the book: in the present case the

subscription price is 4s. 2d. for each copy. After the day of

publication, the price charged by the publisher to the

booksellers is 4s. 6d. With some works it is the custom to

deliver twentyfive copies to those who order twenty-four, thus

allowing a reduction of about four per cent. Such was the case

with the present volume. Different publishers offer different

terms to the subscribers; and it is usual, after intervals of

about six months, for the publisher again to open a subscription

list, so that if the work be one for which there is a steady

sale, the trade avail themselves of these opportunities

ofpurchasing, at the reduced rate, enough to supply their

probable demand.(2*)

381. The volume thus purchased of the publisher at 4s. 2d. or

4s. 6d. is retailed by the bookseller to the public at 6s. In the

first case he makes a profit of forty-four, in the second of

thirty-three per cent. Even the smaller of these two rates of

profit on the capital employed, appears to be much too large. It

may sometimes happen, that when a book is enquired for, the

retail dealer sends across the street to the wholesale agent, and

receives, for this trifling service, one fourth part of the money

paid by the purchaser; and perhaps the retail dealer takes also

six months' credit for the price which the volume actually cost


382. In section 256, the price of each process in

manufacturing the present volume was stated: we shall now give an

analysis of the whole expense of conveying it into the hands of

the public.

The retail price 6s. on 3052 produces 915 12 0

1. Total expense of printing and paper 207 5 8 7/11

2. Taxes on paper and advertisements 40 0 11

3. Commission to publisher as agent between author and printer 18

14 4 4/11 4 Commission to publisher as agent for sale of the book

63 11 8

5. Profit--the difference between subscription price and trade

price, 4d. per vol. 50 17 4

6. Profit the difference between trade price and retail price,

1s. 6d. per vol. 228 18 0

362 1 4

7. Remains for authorship 306 4 0

Total 915 12 0

This account appears to disagree with that in page 146. but

it will be observed that the three first articles amount to L266

1s., the sum there stated. The apparent difference arises from a

circumstance which was not noticed in the first edition of this

work. The bill amounting to L205 18s., as there given, and as

reprinted in the present volume, included an additional charge of

ten per cent upon the real charges of the printer and


383. It is usual for the publisher, when he is employed as

agent between the author and printer, to charge a commission of

ten per cent on all payments he makes. If the author is informed

of this custom previously to his commencing the work, as was the

case in the present instance, he can have no just cause of

complaint; for it is optional whether he himself employs the

printer, or communicates with him through the intervention of his


The services rendered for this payment are, the making

arrangements with the printer, the wood-cutter, and the engraver,

if required. There is a convenience in having some intermediate

person between the author and printer, in case the former should

consider any of the charges made by the latter as too high. When

the author himself is quite unacquainted with the details of the

art of printing, he may object to charges which, on a better

acquaintance with the subject, he might be convinced were very

moderate; and in such cases he ought to depend on the judgement

of his publisher, who is generally conversant with the art. This

is particularly the case in the charge for alterations and

corrections, some of which, although apparently trivial, occupy

the compositors much time in making. It should also be observed

that the publisher, in this case, becomes responsible for the

payments to those persons.

384. It is not necessary that the author should avail himself

of this intervention, although it is the interest of the

publisher that he should; and booksellers usually maintain that

the author cannot procure his paper or printing at a cheaper rate

if he go at once to the producers. This appears from the evidence

given before the Committee of the House of Commons in the

Copyright Acts, 8 May, 1818.

Mr O. Rees, bookseller, of the house of Longman and Co.,

Paternoster Row, examined:

Q. Suppose a gentleman to publish a work on his own account,

and to incur all the various expenses; could he get the paper at

30s. a ream?

A. I presume not; I presume a stationer would not sell the

paper at the same price to an indifferent gentleman as to the


Q. The Committee asked you if a private gentleman was to

publish a work on his own account, if he would not pay more for

the paper than persons in the trade; the Committee wish to be

informed whether a printer does not charge a gentleman a higher

rate than to a publisher.

A. I conceive they generally charge a profit on the paper.

Q. Do not the printers charge a higher price also for

printing, than they do to the trade?

A. I always understood that they do.

385. There appears to be little reason for this distinction

in charging for printing a larger price to the author than to the

publisher, provided the former is able to give equal security for

the payment. With respect to the additional charge on paper, if

the author employs either publisher or printer to purchase it,

they ought to receive a moderate remuneration for the risk, since

they become responsible for the payment; but there is no reason

why, if the author deals at once with the paper-maker, he should

not purchase on the same terms as the printer; and if he choose,

by paying ready money, not to avail himself of the long credit

allowed in those trades, he ought to procure his paper

considerably cheaper.

386. It is time, however, that such conventional combinations

between different trades should be done away with. In a country

so eminently depending for its wealth on its manufacturing

industry, it is of importance that there should exist no abrupt

distinction of classes, and that the highest of the aristocracy

should feel proud of being connected, either personally or

through their relatives, with those pursuits on which their

country's greatness depends. The wealthier manufacturers and

merchants already mix with those classes, and the larger and even

the middling tradesmen are frequently found associating with the

gentry of the land. It is good that this ambition should be

cultivated, not by any rivalry in expense, but by a rivalry in

knowledge and in liberal feelings; and few things would more

contribute to so desirable an effect, than the abolition of all

such contracted views as those to which we have alluded. The

advantage to the other classes, would be an increased

acquaintance with the productive arts of the country an increased

attention to the importance of acquiring habits of punctuality

and of business and, above all, a general feeling that it is

honourable, in any rank of life, to increase our own and our

country's riches, by employing our talents in the production or

in the distribution of wealth.

387. Another circumstance omitted to be noticed in the first

edition relates to what is technically called the overplus, which

may be now explained. When 500 copies of a work are to be

printed, each sheet of it requires one ream of paper. Now a ream,

as used by printers, consists of 21 1/2 quires, or 516 sheets.

This excess of sixteen sheets is necessary in order to allow for

'revises'--for preparing and adjusting the press for the due

performance of its work, and to supply the place of any sheets

which may be accidentally dirtied or destroyed in the processes

of printing, or injured by the binder in putting into boards. It

is found, however, that three per cent is more than the

proportion destroyed, and that damage is less frequent in

proportion to the skill and care of the workmen.

From the evidence of several highly respectable booksellers

and printers, before the Committee of the House of Commons on the

Copyright Act, May, 1818, it appears that the average number of

surplus copies, above 500, is between two and three; that on

smaller impressions it is less, whilst on larger editions it is

greater; that, in some instances, the complete number of 500 is

not made up, in which case the printer is obliged to pay for

completing it; and that in no instance have the whole sixteen

extra copies been completed. On the volume in the reader's hands,

the edition of which consisted of 3000, the surplus amounted to

fifty-two--a circumstance arising from the improvements in

printing and the increased care of the pressmen. Now this

overplus ought to be accounted for to the author--and I believe

it usually is so by all respectable publishers.

388. In order to prevent the printer from privately taking

off a larger number of impressions than he delivers to the author

or publisher, various expedients have been adopted. In some works

a particular watermark has been used in paper made purposely for

the book: thus the words 'Mecanique Celeste' appear in the

watermark of the two first volumes of the great work of Laplace.

In other cases, where the work is illustrated by engravings, such

a fraud would be useless without the concurrence of the

copperplate printer. In France it is usual to print a notice on

the back of the title page, that no copies are genuine without

the subjoined signature of the author: and attached to this

notice is the author's name, either written, or printed by hand

from a wooden block. But notwithstanding this precaution, I have

recently purchased a volume, printed at Paris, in which the

notice exists, but no signature is attached. In London there is

not much danger of such frauds, because the printers are men of

capital, to whom the profit on such a transaction would be

trifling, and the risk of the detection of a fact, which must of

necessity be known to many of their workmen, would be so great as

to render the attempt at it folly.

389. Perhaps the best advice to an author, if he publishes on

his own account, and is a reasonable person, possessed of common

sense, would be to go at once to a respectable printer and make

his arrangements with him.

390. If the author do not wish to print his work at his own

risk, then he should make an agreement with a publisher for an

edition of a limited number; but he should by no means sell the

copyright. If the work contains woodcuts or engravings, it would

be judicious to make it part of the contract that they shall

become the author's property, with the view to their use in a

subsequent edition of the works, if they should be required. An

agreement is frequently made by which the publisher advances the

money and incurs all the risk on condition of his sharing the

profits with the author. The profits alluded to are, for the

present work, the last item of section 382, or L306 4s.

391. Having now explained all the arrangements in printing

the present volume, let us return to section 382, and examine the

distribution of the L915 paid by the public. Of this sum L207 was

the cost of the book, L40 was taxes, L3S2 was the charges of the

bookseller in conveying it to the consumer, and L306 remained for


The largest portion, or L362 goes into the pockets of the

booksellers; and as they do not advance capital, and incur very

little risk, this certainly appears to be an unreasonable

allowance. The most extravagant part of the charge is the

thirty-three per cent which is allowed as profit on retailing the


It is stated, however, that all retail booksellers allow to

their customers a discount of ten per cent upon orders above

20s., and that consequently the nominal profit of forty-four or

thirty-three per cent is very much reduced. If this is the case,

it may fairly be enquired, why the price of L2 for example, is

printed upon the back of a book, when every bookseller is ready

to sell it at L1 16s., and why those who are unacquainted with

that circumstance should be made to pay more than others who are

better informed?

392. Several reasons have been alleged as justifying this

high rate of profit.

First, it has been alleged that the purchasers of books take

long credit. This, probably, is often the case, and admitting it,

no reasonable person can object to a proportionate increase of

price. But it is no less clear, that persons who do pay ready

money, should not be charged the same price as those who defer

their payments to a remote period.

Secondly, it has been urged that large profits are necessary

to pay for the great expenses of bookselling establishments; that

rents are high and taxes heavy; and that it would be impossible

for the great booksellers to compete with the smaller ones,

unless the retail profits were great. In reply to this it may be

observed that the booksellers are subject to no peculiar pressure

which does not attach to all other retail trades. It may also be

remarked that large establishments always have advantages over

smaller ones, in the economy arising from the division of labour;

and it is scarcely to be presumed that booksellers are the only

class who, in large concerns, neglect to avail themselves of


Thirdly, it has been pretended that this high rate of profit

is necessary to cover the risk of the bookseller's having some

copies left on his shelves; but he is not obliged to buy of the

publisher a single copy more than he has orders for: and if he do

purchase more, at the subscription price, he proves, by the very

fact, that he himself does not estimate that risk at more than

from four to eight per cent.

393. It has been truly observed, on the other hand, that many

copies of books are spoiled by persons who enter the shops of

booksellers without intending to make any purchase. But, not to

mention that such persons finding on the tables various new

publications, are frequently induced, by that opportunity of

inspecting them, to become purchasers: this damage does not apply

to all booksellers nor to all books; of course it is not

necessary to keep in the shop books of small probable demand or

great price. In the present case, the retail profit on three

copies only, namely, 4s. 6d., would pay the whole cost of the one

copy soiled in the shop; and even that copy might afterwards

produce, at an auction, half or a third of its cost price. The

argument, therefore, from disappointments in the sale of books,

and that arising from heavy stock, are totally groundless in the

question between publisher and author. It shold be remarked also,

that the publisher is generally a retail, as well as a wholesale,

bookseller; and that, besides his profit upon every copy which he

sells in his capacity of agent, he is allowed to charge the

author as if every copy had been subscribed for at 4s. 2d., and

of course he receives the same profit as the rest of the

wholesale traders for the books retailed in his own shop.

394. In the country, there is more reason for a considerable

allowance between the retail dealer and the public; because the

profit of the country bookseller is diminished by the expense of

the carriage of the books from London. He must also pay a

commission, usually five per cent, to his London agent, on all

those books which his correspondent does not himself publish. If

to this be added a discount of five per cent, allowed for ready

money to every customer, and of ten per cent to book clubs, the

profit of the bookseller in a small country town is by no means

too large.

Some of the writers, who have published criticisms on the

observations made in the first edition of this work, have

admitted that the apparent rate of profit to the booksellers is

too large. But they have, on the other hand, urged that too

favourable a case is taken in supposing the whole 3000 copies

sold. If the reader will turn back to section 382, he will find

that the expense of the three first items remains the same,

whatever be the number of copies sold; and on looking over the

remaining items he will perceive that the bookseller, who incurs

very little risk and no outlay, derives exactly the same profit

per cent on the copies sold, whatever their numbers may be. This,

however, is not the case with the unfortunate author, on whom

nearly the whole of the loss falls undivided. The same writers

have also maintained, that the profit is fixed at the rate

mentioned, in order to enable the bookseller to sustain losses,

unavoidably incurred in the purchase and retail of other books.

This is the weakest of all arguments. It would be equally just

that a merchant should charge an extravagant commission for an

undertaking unaccompanied with any risk, in order to repay

himself for the losses which his own want of skill might lead to

in his other mercantile transactions.

395. That the profit in retailing books is really too large,

is proved by several circumstances: First, that the same nominal

rate of profit has existed in the bookselling trade for a long

series of years, notwithstanding the great fluctuations in the

rate of profit on capital invested in every other business.

Secondly, that, until very lately, a multitude of booksellers, in

all parts of London, were content with a much smaller profit, and

were willing to sell for ready money, or at short credit, to

persons of undoubted character, at a profit of only ten per cent,

and in some instances even at a still smaller percentage, instead

of that of twenty-five per cent on the published prices. Thirdly,

that they are unable to maintain this rate of profit except by a

combination, the object of which is to put down all competition.

396. Some time ago a small number of the large London

booksellers entered into such a combination. One of their objects

was to prevent any bookseller from selling books for less than

ten per cent under the published prices; and in order to enforce

this principle, they refuse to sell books, except at the

publishing price, to any bookseller who declines signing an

agreement to that effect. By degrees, many were prevailed upon to

join this combination; and the effect of the exclusion it

inflicted, left the small capitalist no option between signing or

having his business destroyed. Ultimately, nearly the whole

trade, comprising about two thousand four hundred persons, have

been compelled to sign the agreement.

As might be naturally expected from a compact so injurious to

many of the parties to it, disputes have arisen; several

booksellers have been placed under the ban of the combination,

who allege that they have not violated its rules, and who accuse

the opposite party of using spies, etc., to entrap them.(3*)

397. The origin of this combination has been explained by Mr

Pickering, of Chancery Lane, himself a publisher, in a printed

statement, entitled, 'Booksellers' Monopoly' and the following

list of booksellers, who form the committee for conducting this

combination, is copied from that printed at the head of each of

the cases published by Mr Pickering:

Allen, J., 7, Leadenhall Street.

Arch, J., 61, Cornhill.

Baldwin, R., 47, Paternoster Row.

Booth, J.

Duncan, J., 37, Paternoster Row.

Hatchard, J., Piccadilly.

Marshall, R., Stationers' Court.

Murray, J., Albemarle Street.

Rees, O., 39, Paternoster Row.

Richardson, J. M., 23, Cornhill.

Rivington, J., St. Paul's Churchyard.

Wilson, E., Royal Exchange.

398. In whatever manner the profits are divided between the

publisher and the retail bookseller, the fact remains, that the

reader pays for the volume in his hands 6s., and that the author

will receive only 3s. 10d.; out of which latter sum, the expense

of printing the volume must be paid: so that in passing through

two hands this book has produced a profit of forty-four per cent.

This excessive rate of profit has drawn into the book trade a

larger share of capital than was really advantageous; and the

competition between the different portions of that capital has

naturally led to the system of underselling, to which the

committee above mentioned are endeavouring to put a stop.(4*)

399. There are two parties who chiefly suffer from this

combination, the public and authors. The first party can seldom be

induced to take an active part against any grievance; and in fact

little is required from it, except a cordial support of the

authors, in any attempt to destroy a combination so injurious to

the interests of both.

Many an industrious bookseller would be glad to sell for 5s.

the volume which the reader holds in his hand, and for which he

has paid 6s.; and, in doing so for ready money, the tradesman who

paid 4s. 6d. for the book, would realize, without the least risk,

a profit of eleven per cent on the money he had advanced. It is

one of the objects of the combination we are discussing, to

prevent the small capitalist from employing his capital at that

rate of profit which he thinks most advantageous to himself; and

such a proceeding is decidedly injurious to the public.

400. Having derived little pecuniary advantage from my own

literary productions; and being aware, that from the very nature

of their subjects, they can scarcely be expected to reimburse the

expense of preparing them, I may be permitted to offer an opinion

upon the subject, which I believe to be as little influenced by

any expectation of advantage from the future, as it is by any

disappointment at the past.

Before, however, we proceed to sketch the plan of a campaign

against Paternoster Row, it will be fit to inform the reader of

the nature of the enemies' forces, and of his means of attack and

defence. Several of the great publishers find it convenient to be

the proprietors of reviews, magazines, journals, and even of

newspapers. The editors are paid, in some instances very

handsomely, for their superintendence; and it is scarcely to be

expected that they should always mete out the severest justice on

works by the sale of which their employers are enriched. The

great and popular works of the day are, of course, reviewed with

some care, and with deference to public opinion. Without this,

the journals would not sell; and it is convenient to be able to

quote such articles as instances of impartiality. Under shelter

of this, a host of ephemeral productions are written into a

transitory popularity; and by the aid of this process, the

shelves of the booksellers, as well as the pockets of the public,

are disencumbered. To such an extent are these means employed,

that some of the periodical publications of the day ought to be

regarded merely as advertising machines. That the reader may be

in some measure on his guard against such modes of influencing

his judgement, he should examine whether the work reviewed is

published by the bookseller who is the proprietor of the review;

a fact which can sometimes be ascertained from the title of the

book as given at the head of the article. But this is by no means

a certain criterion, because partnerships in various publications

exist between houses in the book trade, which are not generally

known to the public; so that, in fact, until reviews are

established in which booksellers have no interest, they can never

be safely trusted.

401. In order to put down the combination of booksellers, no

plan appears so likely to succeed as a counter-association of

authors. If any considerable portion of the literary world were

to unite and form such an association; and if its affairs were

directed by an active committee, much might be accomplished. The

objects of such an union should be, to employ some person well

skilled in the printing, and in the bookselling trade; and to

establish him in some central situation as their agent. Each

member of the association to be at liberty to place any, or all

of his works in the hands of this agent for sale; to allow any

advertisements, or list of books published by members of the

association, to be stitched up at the end of each of his own

productions; the expense of preparing them being defrayed by the

proprietors of the books advertised.

The duties of the agent would be to retail to the public, for

ready money, copies of books published by members of the

association. To sell to the trade, at prices agreed upon, any

copies they may require. To cause to be inserted in the journals,

or at the end of works published by members, any advertisements

which the committee or authors may direct. To prepare a general

catalogue of the works of members. To be the agent for any member

of the association respecting the printing of any work.

Such a union would naturally present other advantages; and as

each author would retain the liberty of putting any price he

might think fit on his productions, the public would have the

advantage of reduction in price produced by competition between

authors on the same subject, as well as of that arising from a

cheaper mode of publishing the volumes sold to them.

402. Possibly, one of the consequences resulting from such an

association, would be the establishment of a good and an

impartial review, a work the want of which has been felt for

several years. The two long-established and celebrated reviews,

the unbending champions of the most opposite political opinions.

are, from widely differing causes, exhibiting unequivocal signs

of decrepitude and decay. The quarterly advocate of despotic

principles is fast receding from the advancing intelligence of

the age; the new strength and new position which that

intelligence has acquired, demands for its expression, new

organs, equally the representatives of its intellectual power,

and of its moral energies: whilst, on the other hand, the sceptre

of the northern critics has passed, from the vigorous grasp of

those who established its dominion, into feebler hands.

403. It may be stated as a difficulty in realizing this

suggestion, that those most competent to supply periodical

criticism, are already engaged. But it is to be observed, that

there are many who now supply literary criticisms to journals,

the political principles of which they disapprove; and that if

once a respectable and well-supported review(5*) were

established, capable of competing, in payment to its

contributors, with the wealthiest of its rivals, it would very

soon be supplied with the best materials the country can produce.

(6*) It may also be apprehended that such a combination of

authors would be favourable to each other. There are two

temptations to which an editor of a review is commonly exposed:

the first is, a tendency to consult too much, in the works he

criticizes, the interest of the proprietor of his review; the

second, a similar inclination to consult the interests of his

friends. The plan which has been proposed removes one of these

temptations, but it would be very difficult, if not impossible,

to destroy the other.


1. The whole of the subsequent details relate to the first

edition of this work.

2. These details vary with different books and different

publishers; those given in the text are believed to substantially

correct, and are applicable to works like the present.

3. It is now understood that the use of spies has been given up;

and it is also known that the system of underselling is again

privately resorted to by many, so that the injury arising from

this arbitrary system, pursued by the great booksellers, affects

only, or most severely, those whose adherence to an extorted

promise most deserves respect. Note to the second edition.

4 The monopoly cases. Nos. 1. 2. and 3. of those published by Mr

Pickering, should be consulted upon this point; and, as the

public will be better able to form a judgement by hearing the

other side of the question, it is to be hoped the Chairman of the

Committee (Mr Richardson) will publish those regulations

respecting the trade, a copy of which. Mr Pickering states, is

refused by the Committee even to those who sign them.

5. At the moment when this opinion as to the necessity for a new

review was passing through the press. I was informed that the

elements of such an undertaking were already organized.

6. I have been suggested to me, that the doctrines maintained in

this chapter may subject the present volume to the opposition of

that combination which it has opposed. I do not entertain that

opinion; and for this reason, that the booksellers are too shrewd

a class to supply such an admirable passport to publicity as

their opposition would prove to be if generally suspected. But

should my readers take a different view of the question, they can

easily assist in remedying the evil, by each mentioning the

existence of this little volume to two of his friends.

{I was wrong in this conjecture; all booksellers are not so

shrewd as I had imagined, for some did refuse to sell this

volume; consequently others sold a larger number of copies.

In the preface to the second edition, at the commencement of

this volume, the reader will find some further observation on the

effect of the booksellers' combination.}