Item 26 - Draft of a letter from R. B. McKerrow to Kenneth Sisam

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Add. MS a/355/3/26


Draft of a letter from R. B. McKerrow to Kenneth Sisam


  • [c. 17 Aug. 1927?] (Creation)

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(Place of writing not indicated.)—Asks for more favourable terms than those offered.



Dear Mr Sisam,

I ought of course also to have replied to your letter of 17 Aug. concerning the Introduction to Bibliography, but I really wanted to do a bit of calculating & have never had time.

The terms you offer are not at all bad though I think we (Sidgwick & Jackson) should generally either have offered 15 from the start (for U.K.) or suggested a (probably unattainable) 20% after 2000 or 2500. (You could of course quite safely offer this provided no considerable changes are required in later impressions.)

But on the whole I do feel that you ought to be able to give a little more than 10% (on U.K. price) on the ‘Export’ & U.S.A. sales. As the book costs $6 in U.S.A. this is only 7½% on published price, which is really a very low figure for an expensive book. One can screw the American Publisher up to this on quite cheap editions when the margin must be very small. {1} I really feel that 10% on the U.S.A. price (which would be 13⅓ on the English one) should not be at all excessive. It makes of course some difference to me, as although many of the initial sales—single copies to Libraries etc. {2}—would come through English agents, it seems probable that if, as I hope, the book is used more or less as a text book for advanced students in the American Universities, the later orders will mostly come through your American house.

Besides ‘Export’ other than to U.S.A. is (strictly between ourselves as publishers) a bit of a fraud. We at any rate—and I suppose you also—give no better terms to exporters than we do to wholesalers in England, so there is really no reason for a smaller royalty. I admit that the bulk of Export will no doubt be U.S.A., but there will certainly be some to the {3} & India & the Colonies—and perhaps a few to European countries.

I should be glad if you would consider these points.


{1} Full stop substituted for a comma, which is followed in the original by, ‘though I admit that they don’t want to pay more than 5%.’ struck through.

{2} Probable reading. The succeeding dash has been supplied.

{3} Followed by ‘Colonies’ struck through. This word should also have been deleted.

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