In the nineteenth century publishers on both sides of the Atlantic had five ways of paying authors:

1. Commission (the author retained his or her copyright, but had to bear the costs of printing, binding, and advertising the work);

2. Half or three-quarter profits (the publisher bore production costs, which he then charged against the book; since liability for losses was split between publisher and author, so were the profits);

3. Outright purchase of an author's copyright, the practice of the House of Tauchnitz in acquiring Continental rights for supplying British novels for railway station bookstands;

4. Short lease or short run (the publisher bought the right to print the work for a definite period of time, or for a specified number of copies);

5. Royalty system of varying percentages to the author for different editions--perhaps 25 per cent for a triple-decker, 10 per cent for an American cheap edition, 15 per cent for a London cheap edition, and as little as 3d. a copy for a colonial edition.

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Created 5 January 2001

Last modified 10 August 2013