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Che Publishers' Weekly.


JULY 26, 1890.

The editor does not hold himself responsible for the views expressed in contributed articles or communications.

All matter, whether for the reading-matter columns or our advertising pages, should reach this office not later than Wednesday noon, to insure insertion in the same week's issue.

In case of business changes, notification or card should be immediately sent to this office for entry under "BusiNew catalogues issued will also be menness Notes." tioned when forwarded.

Publishers are requested to furnish title-page proofs and advance information of books forthcoming, both for

entry in the lists and for descriptive mention. An early

copy of each book published should be forwarded, to insure correctness in the final entry.

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· Every man is a debtor to his profession, from the which, as men do of course seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavor themselves by way of amends to be a help thereunto."-LORD BACON.

SECOND-CLASS POSTAGE ON BOOKS. THE Postmaster-General has written, under date of July 9, an elaborate letter, the essential portions of which we print elsewhere, favoring the bill now pending in Congress, raising the rate of postage on paper-covered books now classed as periodicals" to one cent for each two ounces, by classifying them as third-class matter instead of as second-class at the bulk rate of one cent per pound.

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This letter, which is intended to review the whole subject, finds its occasion and text in the argument of Mr. Patrick Farrelly, of the American News Company, before the House Committee, against the proposed change. The Postmaster-General speaks of Mr. Farrelly as the representative of the publishing interests, but it has never been clear that the interests of the publishing trade and of the book trade at large were the same as those of the American News Company in this matter.

The Postmaster-General, not being fully acquainted with the history of his Department, is clearly wrong in his contention that there is no evidence to show that it was intended, at the time of the passage of the Act of 1879, under which current postal decisions are made, to include the so-called "libraries" under the designation of "periodicals." The Act of 1879 was originally prepared by the Post-Office Department, and practically by Judge A. H. Bissell, whose death some years since was a serious loss both to the Department and to the business public.

This draft included a clause excepting from sec-
ond-class or bulk rates, "publications which,
although issued in regular series or successive
numbers, are but books or reprints of books."

The act was originally drafted in or before
1878, and was the subject of an important Postal
Conference, which, at the suggestion of the De-
partment and by the courtesy of Postmaster
James, was held in the Postmaster's room of the
New York Post-Office, October 9, 1878, and
succeeding days. This included publishers and
other business men having large postal relations,
from other cities as well as from New York,
as well as representatives of the Department
At that Con-
and of the New York Post-Office.
was represented
ference the publishing trade
by Mr. J. W. Harper, who acted as temporary
Chairman, H. O. Houghton, A. C. Barnes, H. E.
Simmons, Chas. Hutchins, and others. The per-
manent Chairman was Mr. Elwood E. Thorn, of
the New York Board of Trade, and Mr. H. E.
Simmons, then Business Manager of the Ameri-
can Tract Society, was the permanent Secretary.

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At this Conference, of which full details will be found in the PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY for October 5, 12, and 19, 1878, the proposed act was submitted by the Post-Office Department through Judge Bissell, and the sections were considered in detail. The question whether the cheap quarlibraries" should be admitted tos in so-called to the bulk rate was one of the points most discussed, and Mr. Farrelly, who was a member of the Conference, took strong ground in favor of their inclusion, in which position he was not, The Messrs. however, generally supported by the representa tives of the publishing trade. Harper had, however, started the Franklin Square Library about the middle of that `year, and their representative acquiesced in rather than supported Mr. Farrelly's contention. When the Conference adjourned, after passing resolutions summing up its conclusions in general, it left the final details to the care of an Executive Committee, which afterward reported certain modifications of the bill, which modifications dropped the clause quoted above. The bill was carried as amended, and the evidence is therefore perfectly good that it was the intent of the bill to include these publications under secondThe Postmaster-General to the conclass rates. trary notwithstanding, it is not infrequently the custom to construe a bill by its history, where the text is silent or gives only negative information.

Since this law was passed, the cheap quartos have been succeeded by "libraries" of complete books, in the ordinary book form, so that the semblance of newspaper shape which these series originally had has altogether disappeared. It is doubtless true that the cheap-rate postage has assisted in the wide distribution of the cheap

quartos, and very probably they have done more or less educating work. They have, however, had their day, and it is fair matter of doubt whether their educative influence has more than offset the demoralization of the publishing trade and its distributing machinery which they have helped to bring about.

The present law has enabled the American News Company, in particular, to distribute a large proportion of its sales very economically to itself, and it has been of similar service to the publishers of cheap "libraries." On the other hand, every eleemosynary institution which does business at less than cost interferes more or less seriously with the ordinary machinery of business. It is almost impossible to build up a retail book trade, which is, in itself, an educating influ ence, at remote centres where the government delivers books by mail at less than cost, and, of course, at much less than the cost of expressage to the dealer on his bound books. This was the view of the PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY when this bill was originally under discussion, as will be seen by the following extracts:

This omission is supported by the American News Co. in the interest of the cheap libraries. It is difficult to see why they should be admitted at bulk rates, when the paper-covered octavo novels, as Harper's Select Library, containing exactly the same matter but on a different size page, are excluded.-October 5, 1878.

The committee will doubtless strongly favor registration, and it is not unlikely that it will accept the admission to bulk rates, urged by Mr. Harper and Mr. Farrelly, of the cheap libraries," which are scarcely periodicals in any fair use of the word. They are entitled to respect as a means of popular education, but have the same rights as other books, and no more, to postal privileges. October 19, 1878.

The pending bill omits altogether not only the detailed proviso against merely advertising sheets, but also the proviso excluding " publications which are but books or reprints of books" from bulk rates. By this omission, not only are the cheap libraries given a privilege above the identical matter in other shape (as the Harper brown paper octavo), but there is nothing to prevent the admission at bulk rates of subscription-books issued in parts-another blow at the regular trade, which surely suffers enough already. It is somewhat extraordinary that the publishers represented in the Executive Committee of the Postal Conference endorsed this omission, which is not in the interests of "justice, simplicity, uniformity at all, but the explanation is that they did not desire to take ground which should seem to be in selfish advocacy of their own immediate interests. The result is a decided injustice, against which also the book trade should enter protest. The provisos ought to be restored.-Jan. 11, 1879.

It is an open question to-day, whether this allowance of cheap postage on certain forms of books, contrasting extremely with the postal or express rates on more permanent forms of books, does more good than harm. The chief beneficiaries to-day would be not so much the people as the American News Company and the new United States Book Company. The bill urged by the Postmaster-General might have the effect,

by taking off the below-cost competition of the government, of strengthening the distributing machinery of the book trade and by increasing the number of retail stores at small centres doing vastly more for the education and culture of the people than is accomplished by the low rate of the present law. On this point, however, it is difficult to form an absolute opinion.

THE Philadelphia Ledger, in a recent issue, prints the following remarkable statement from Julian Hawthorne: "I have no doubt that you have been cheated by a publisher. I know I often have been. There are few or no authors that have not; but I became convinced many years ago that it is vain to attempt to remedy the abuse or get back what you have been robbed of." We wonder it did not occur to Mr. Hawthorne to specify who it was that "cheated" him. It must have been one of the few firms that published his books. Who is it, Mr. Hawthorne? Let us have the names.


THE Postmaster-General, under date of July 9, 1890, addressed a letter to the chairman of the Committee on the Post-Office and Post-Roads in advocacy of bill H. R. 7558, which proposes to make the rate of postage on paper-covered books issued periodically one cent for every two ounces or fraction thereof, the rate now prescribed by law for all other paper-covered books, as well as for books having a more substantial form of binding. His letter is chiefly directed against the argument of Mr. P. Farrelly, of the American News Company, to which frequent references are made. With unimportant omissions we give the letter below almost in full:


OFFICE OF THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL, WASHINGTON, D. C., July 9, 1890. Hon. Henry H. Bingham, Chairman Committee on the Post Office and Post-Roads :

SIR: I respectfully present, for the information of yourself and your committee, the following statement in advocacy of bill H. R. 7558, which proposes to make the rate of postage on papercovered books issued periodically one cent for every two ounces or fraction thereof-the rate now prescribed by law for all other paper-covered books, as well as for books having a more substantial form of binding. ..

Mr. Farrelly, the spokesman of the publishers who, on two recent occasions, appeared before your committee in opposition to the bill, has to some extent gone into the history of these things, fulness it is hardly worth while to inquire. It is whether with entire accuracy or with sufficient enough for me to say concerning them that from the time when printed matter of all kinds began to be admitted into the mails until now, Congress tion between newspapers and magazines on the has thought it proper to make a marked distincone hand (including what are somewhat indefi

nitely designated as periodicals), and books on the other; the former being encouraged by the allowance of postage rates very considerably less than those granted to the latter; and this distinction, due, no doubt, to the powerful influence which the newspaper press has always exerted upon legislation, and not to the idea that a newspaper or a magazine, in either a moral or an educational sense, is of any greater value than a book, has given rise to considerable dissatisfaction among book publishers-a dissatisfaction that has manifested itself through nearly half a century of postal history, by a constant struggle to have certain classes of paper-covered books recognized as periodicals, and that has undoubtedly done much to induce publishers, with the view of reducing postage charges, to give the character of periodicity to that large and increasing mass of cheap books, now going through the mails as second-class matter, which it is the intention of the bill under consideration to relegate to its legitimate place in postal classification. . . Here follows a lengthy discussion as to what was the intention of Congress in enacting the law of March 3, 1879, so far as concerns the rate of postage on serial books.

Partly to show what a periodical is, Mr. Farrelly, in his argument, refers in the following terms to an opinion which he says was given to the Post-Office Department in 1878 by the Attorney-General of the United States relative to certain serial publications then going through the mails:

"I have a document here, which I received from the Postmaster at New York, dated the 27th day of November, 1878, excluding certain publications, and the Attorney-General was then appealed to to interpret the law, and he decided that in each case these periodicals that it is now proposed to exclude were admissible under the law."

There are now before me volumes 15 and 16 of the Opinions of the Attorney-General, covering the period from the beginning of 1875 to the close of 1880, and after careful examination thereof 1 have been unable to find any opinion at all with reference to serial publications given at the time Mr. Farrelly mentions. But I do find that on July 28, 1877, the Attorney-General gave an opinion, in which he held that the Lakeside Library-no other publication being in question was a periodical, and entitled to the low rate of postage prescribed for newspapers under the act of June 23, 1874. This is probably the opinion that Mr. Farrelly refers to. Whether it be so or not, let us see what weight it should have in determining the present question:

In the first place, it was given nearly two years prior to the passage of the act which now governs the classification of mail matter, and decides the question merely as to the rights of one publication under a law the act of June 23, 1874--which does not attempt to define what a periodical is. If then accepted by the Postmaster-General as a guide for his action, the principle embodied in it might have been applied to other cases; but it is absurd to say that it should have any weight in determining the character of a publication under the present law, which not only repeals the old one, but prescribes conditions relative to secondclass matter which had never before been the subject of any United States statute.

In the next place, I do not know, and have no present means of ascertaining, that the Lakeside

Library is identical in character with the serials now in question. But I am inclined to hazard the assertion that it is not quite the same; for the Attorney-General several times refers to it as a literary" paper," and once as a "magazine," having regular subscribers, and occasionally not complete in itself-certain "articles" he says, being continued from one number to another. In fact, the idea of its being a book, rather than a paper or magazine, does not seem to have entered into his mind in deciding the question. It must have been somewhat different from the serials now current; for the fact that these are books, each of them complete in itself, it seems to me, must be the first thought that would present itself to any one called upon to define their character.

Finally, the opinion of Attorney-General Devens would not determine the question now at issue, even though it related to the classification of the Lakeside Library under the law at present in force. I do not mean, of course, by this to question the value of any opinion given by so eminent a lawyer as Mr. Devens, or to intimate that he was any more likely to give a wrong opinion than other men. But he was fallible, as we all are, and his opinion, far from being a guide to us now, was not binding, beyond perhaps the requirements of official etiquette and good taste, even upon the officer to whom he gave it. The question, moreover, as he himself said, was one of fact, or of mixed law and fact, which enables even a layman to give his judgment on it without presumption; and as such I venture to say that if his opinion could be construed to hold that any publication, such as the law-books of the Blackstone Publishing Company, for example, which are among those now under consideration, are periodicals within the meaning of the law, the opinion is incorrect, and I should not feel bound, apart from other considerations, to respect it. WHAT IS THE REAL MEANING of the presENT LAW?

Having disposed of the principal points made by the opponents of the bill, let us see, if possible, what is the real meaning of the act of March 3, 1879, so far as it applies to the rates of postage on books and periodicals:

Section 16 of this act provides that third-class matter shall embrace books, transient newspapers and periodicals, etc., and that the rate of postage thereon shall be one cent for every two ounces or fraction thereof. Here, it will be noticed, there is no qualification as to books: they are allbound or unbound, large or small, numbered or not numbered, regularly or irregularly issued — placed in the third class of mail matter, and required to pay postage at the rate of a cent for every two ounces. Unless, therefore, it can be shown that elsewhere in the act a paper-covered book with a number or date on it is regarded as something else than a book, it seems to me that this single section is conclusive of the question ; and after a close examination of the statute I fail to find anything in it that gives the least foundation to the idea that a book is under any circumstances to be regarded as a periodical.

With the view, however, of otherwise ascertaining whether the publications under consideration are books or not, let us examine a few authorities, including those quoted by Mr. Farrelly:

Webster says that a book is "a collection of sheets of paper or similar material, blank, written, or printed, bound together."

Worcester says that a book is "a printed liter

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These definitions, which in substance declare

a book to be a distinct literary composition something complete in itself-just as are the serial books now under consideration, would seem also to be decisive of the case, although Mr. Farrelly insists that three of the definitions apply equally to periodicals-a claim which I shall presently show to be unfounded.

But let us go further; let us, in spite of the pertinacity with which Mr. Farrelly, all through his argument, calls these publications periodicals, see what the publishers themselves call them. The following statements made up from their own utterances, and which, if desirable, might be greatly extended, will indicate what is an indisputable fact, that there are but few instances where these publishers do not, in their advertisements, prospectuses, prefaces, or other forms of public announcement of the issue or merits of these works, refer to them as books-not inadvertently or thoughtlessly, but as if there were no other fit designation for them.

The Postmaster-General then quotes from the circulars and announcements of eighteen publishing houses to show that they in all cases speak of their libraries and serial publications as books, concluding as follows:

Robert Bonner's Sons, speaking of "A Mad Betrothal," which is No. 1 of their Choice Series, say: "Miss Libbey's new novel is one of the most fascinating books of the year." The same publishers, speaking of "Her Double Life" (which, although No. 3 of their Choice Series, is also No. 1 of the New York Ledger Library), say: The issuing of this beautiful story-'Her Double Life-in book form inaugurates the New York Ledger Library, which will comprise a series of the choicest and most popular stories that have been published in the Ledger during the last quarter of a century."


I make this the last quotation from the utterances of publishers of this class of works, because it very happily illustrates, though unintentionally, the exact difference between a periodical and a book. The New York Ledger, in which" Her Double Life" was originally printed-a publication appearing every week with unfailing regularity, being sent largely to actual bona fide subscribers, having a genuine subscription price, and being made up by editorial care and management --is and always has been, a periodical. "Her Double Life," appearing now, as the publishers say, in book form, without any real regard to regularity of issue (because sold whenever it may be called for, and to anybody who may want it), not having perhaps any subscribers unless chance purchasers be so called-being, in a word, different in no respect from the cloth-bound edition. advertised side by side with it, except as to price and binding, and not made up with the care or in the manner with which the periodical was issued -is a book, and nothing more nor less.

But, not confining ourselves to what the lex

icons and the publishers say about this matter, let us see what the press, which represents the common sense of the people, thinks of it. I regret that I have not had an opportunity of gathering more than the following quotations from this scurce, which, however, have all been reproduced by the publishers of the works alluded to in them, and which take in only the papercovered or serial editions now going through the mails as matter of the second class:

Here twenty prominent newspapers are quoted from the publishers' announcements to prove the Postmaster-General's point that the press in reviewing these publications treat them as books, not as periodicals.

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By the act of March 3, 1879-the law now in force-second-class matter is made to embrace newspapers and other periodical publications," the following conditions being prescribed as the rule upon which any such publications shall be admitted:

"First. It must regularly be issued at stated intervals as frequently as four times a year, and

bear a date of issue, and be numbered consecutively.


Second. It must be issued from a known office of publication.

Third. It must be formed of printed paper sheets, without board, cloth, leather, or other substantial binding, such as distinguish printed books for preservation from periodical publications.

"Fourth. It must be originated and published for the dissemination of information of a public character, or devoted to literature, the sciences, arts. or some special industry, and having a legitimate list of subscribers. Provided that nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to admit to the second-class rate regular publications designed primarily for advertising purposes or for circulation at nominal rates."

An analysis of these provisions of law-taking not merely their strict literal signification, but their evident intent-will, I think, show that under them a book, wher. er in paper covers or not, is inadmissible as second-class mail matter under any circumstances.

In the first place, let it be borne in mind that the four conditions prescribed do not constitute the test of what a periodical is, but merely the test of admissibility to the second-class of mail matter. The following example will illustrate the distinction: The North American Review, issued twelve times a year, is not a periodical simply because it conforms to the above conditions; it would be none the less a periodical if it were issued only three times a year, provided its character were otherwise unchanged. So, likewise, the New York Herald, a daily newspaper, would, retaining all its other existing features, still be a newspaper if, instead of having a subscription price, it were given away by the publishers. The effect of the change in either of these cases would be simply to deprive the publishers of the privilege of sending their periodicals through the mails at the second-class rate of postage.

Bearing this obvious fact in mind, and, further, that the law fails to define a periodical publication, we must assume that Congress, in using this term, meant to include what were and are popularly known as periodicals, and not what are known as books. For why, it may not be unrea

office of publication is of the least moment, so far as concerns the question as to whether they are books or periodicals.

It is not necessary to refer to the third condition of the law, except to say that its unmistakable purpose is simply to prohibit the admission of bound books to the second class.

The fourth condition is one of special importance, because it includes certain general principles governing the publication of all genuine periodicals which are not possessed by probably a

sonably asked, did Congress, in prescribing what should constitute second-class matter, use the expression "newspapers and other periodical publications," instead of the word" periodicals"? Was it not to indicate that the newspaper, which is, by the expression quoted, a "periodical publication," is to be regarded as a representative, a criterion, of the whole class, or, in other words, that the term "other periodical publications" shall be understood as embodying somewhat the general characteristics of a newspaper? And as a newspaper requires editorial care and management-single one of all the numerous libraries and series as it is made up generally of current literature, or news, or editorials, or other matter, original and selected, according to its class or general purpose as it has a being, voice, a character, an individuality, which nothing in it, separately taken, can possibly have—as it is, in short, a production, and not a mere name, consisting of things which people invariably look for at stated times, and therefore subscribe for and demand - so any "other periodical" must be of the same general nature. If we examine the entire field of what is commonly termed periodical literature, we will find that this description universally applies, and is, therefore, a just one. Even in the opinion of the Attorney-General of the United States, hereinbefore discussed, which Mr. Farrelly so confi dently relies upon, a definition of a periodical is given which seems to exclude serial books. Says this officer: A periodical publication is "a printed, literary paper, printed and published periodically, in numbers or parts, at definite intervals." This, assuredly, does not take in books.

If we look closely at the character of the conditions prescribed for the admission of these periodical publications, we will find that this view of the matter is verified. Why, for example, should the law require that a publication, to be entitled to admission to the second class, shall be published "as frequently as four times a year, and bear a date of issue, and be numbered consecutively"? Evidently because these are among the almost invariable indications of a genuine periodical; because they constitute, either wholly or singly, something necessary to either the publication or its subscribers; because they serve, legitimately used, to distinguish a periodical from a book. But are these things of the least consequence as conditions governing the publication of such books as those we are now considering? Can any one suppose that a date of issue or a consecutive numbering makes these books in any wise different from other books? Can regularity of issue be of any value in the case of the book? Who is to complain of the failure to issue at the stated time? Who is to care, indeed? So far as these things are concerned, a bound book might just as appropriately be called second-class matter as the paper-covered one.

The second condition of the law is that the periodical "must be issued from a known office of publication." This, as applied to periodicals, is a requirement of considerable value. As a rule, a real periodical must have a known office of publication, to which advertisements, articles of publication, subscriptions, inquiries, etc., must be sent. In this way its genuineness may at any time be investigated. By this its value to subscribers, to advertisers, to seekers after special information, is to some extent not infrequently determined. But of what significance is this in the case of serial books? What does it matter whether these have any local habitation or not? It is absurd to suppose that in their case a known |

which Mr. Farrelly represents. To be admitted to the second class, a periodical must, under this condition, be published "for the dissemination of information of a public character, or devoted to literature, the sciences, arts, or some special industry, and having a legitimate list of subscribers." Harper's Magazine, for example, is admissible under this rule, because it has a legitimate list of subscribers, and is devoted to one or more of the several things detailed. So is the New York Tribune for the same reasons; so is Lippincott's Magazine, notwithstanding Mr. Farrelly appears to think, because it usually contains an entire story, that under the pending bill it would be excluded; so, to be brief, are all of the thousands of legitimate newspapers and other periodicals which every day and week and month regularly appear throughout the cities and villages of our country, and which, possessing the life, and character, and voice of periodicals, do so much to elevate and instruct and help their subscribers and readers.

But in what respect can any of the serials represented by Mr. Farrelly be said to comply with the above-stated conditions? They have no legitimate list of subscribers, unless newsdealers and chance purchasers be claimed as such ; and this is incontestably not what the law regards as subscribers. They are not published for the dissemination of news, and they are devoted to nothing which the law mentions. In fact, these serials have no individuality whatever as periodicals. Take any single issue of any of them, and what is it but a book? There is nothing in it which devotes it to any particular thing-nothing in the way of editorial or comment upon things or passing events, art, science. or literature, nothing to indicate its purpose, no utterance and no existence, except as a book. In that respect its entity is undeniable and complete; but as a periodical it is a myth. Even its serial title shows it to be so, for that is put down in a majority of cases, together with the number, date, and seeming terms of subscription, in inconspicuous types and in a position that sometimes requires a search to find it—almost as if the publisher were ashamed to have them appear upon the work-while the title of the book is always prominent and runs entirely through it. In the pagination, the indexing, the tables of contents, the prefaces, dedications, advertisements, and prices, the book invariably appears, while the alleged periodical fails to give any real evidence of existence. To say that any series of these books bears the least resemblance to such magazines as Harper's, Scribner's, The Century, Outing, etc., as Mr. Farrelly pertinaciously insists, is almost farcical. They are totally different, and their serial names, their professed objects, and their other nominal characteristics are beyond doubt given them solely to have them mailed at the low rate of postage.

To sum up, the law governing this matter was intended by Congress to admit to the second

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