American Authors and the Literary Marketplace Since 1900 by James L. W. West III

By James L. W. West III

This e-book examines literary authorship within the 20th century and covers such themes as publishing, publication distribution, the exchange editor, the literary agent, the journal marketplace, subsidiary rights, and the blockbuster mentality.

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Copies sold before the book broke even often yielded a higher percentage of the gross income to the author than to the publisher, but copies sold after the break-even point were more profitable for the publisher. This arrangement was justified by publishers on the grounds that they had used their own capital to finance the original manufacture of the book and would need risk capital in the h t u r e to publish other books. The profit margin on cheap reprints, however, was not so large as it was on trade reprints, so the author here was usually asked to accept a lower royalt): often a straight ro percent, or even a flat fee.

Lippincott and Mathew Carev did some b~~siness in this fashion, but because the southern population was predominantly agrarian, it was usually necessary also to send out traveling booksellers. American busi~lessleaders of all types were cautious about expanding their markets before 1850. Most did not have access to the capital required to open up new sales territories, and the populatio~lstill was so small and scattered in relation to the size of the c o u n t r y - m e t - f i e million citizens in 1850-that nearly all heacls of firms had to be prudent.

330-38. On the Modern Library, see Gordon B. Neavill, "The Modern Library Series uf'lzbmry his to^^ 16 (Spring 1981): 241-52, and "The and American Cultural Life," Jot

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