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done of late years to render the pressure of taxation more equal. The repeal of the duties on beer and coal is, in this respect, deserving of the greatest eulogy: the former fell wholly on the beverage of the lower and middle classes, without so much as touching that of the noble and affluent; while the latter fell only on particular districts, imposing on them a heavy burden, from which other districts, quite as able to bear it, were wholly exempted. These odious distinctions are now entirely abolished; and it will ever be matter of astonishment that they were suffered to grow up and continue for so many years. But though much has been accomplished, much yet remains to be done, in order to rid our system of taxation of distinctions disgraceful alike to the government and the country. Had the Duke of Wellington and Lord Althorpe been merely anxious to purify our fiscal policy from injustice, we are not sure that the beer duty, or the coal duty, would have been that of which they would have first recommended the abolition. The taxes on Literature are still more glaringly unjust, and, we incline to think, not less inexpedient; nothing, indeed, ever called more strongly for immediate revision and amendment.

The taxes on books consist of the duties on paper and advertisements, and the eleven copies given to public libraries. The first are as follow:

First class paper (including all printing paper),
Second do.

Glazed paper, millboard, &c.

Pasteboard, 1st class,

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These duties produced last year (1830) L.665,872, 5s. 81d. of net revenue. The regulations and penalties under which they are charged and collected, are about the most complicated, vexatious, and oppressive, of any in the excise laws. At an average, the duties amount to from 20 to 30 per cent of the cost of the paper and pasteboard used in the printing and boarding of books. Heavy, however, as these duties certainly are, they are light compared with those laid on advertisements. A duty of 3s. 6d. is charged on every advertisement, long or short, inserted in the Gazette, or in any newspaper, or any work published in numbers or parts; and as the charge, exclusive of the duty, for inserting an advertisement of the ordinary length in the newspapers, rarely exceeds 3s. or 4s., the duty adds fully 100 per cent to its cost. And as it is quite as necessary to the sale of a work that it should be advertised, as that it should be printed, the advertisement duty may be justly regarded as an ad valorem

duty of 100 per cent on the material of a most important manufacture! Had this duty furnished a large revenue, something might have been found to say in its favour. But even this poor apology for oppressive exaction cannot be urged in its behalf. It is exorbitant without being productive. Last year (1830) it produced L.157,482, 7s. 4d. in Great Britain, and L.16,337, 14s. in Ireland; making together L.173,821, 1s. 4d.; of which miserable pittance, we believe we may safely affirm, a full third was derived from advertisements of books.

But the real operation of the duties on books will be best learned from the following statements, to which we invite the attention of our readers. They have been drawn up by the first practical authority in London, and the fullest reliance may be placed on their correctness. They refer to an octavo volume of 500 pages, printed on respectable paper, to be sold by retail for 12s. a-copy.

Estimate of the cost of such a volume, when 500, 750, and 1000 copies are printed, showing what part of this cost consists of taxes.

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The following Statement shows the operation of the Duties on a Pamphlet of Five Sheets, or Eighty Pages, of which 500 Copies are printed.

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Now, it results from these statements, which, as already mentioned, have been derived from the highest practical authority, that when the edition is an average one of 750 copies, the duties amount to about a fifth, or 20 per cent of its cost. And whether the edition consist of 500, 750, or even 1000 copies, the duties may be said invariably to exceed all the remuneration the author can reasonably expect to obtain for his labour!

But it is essential to bear in mind, that the preceding statements show only how the duties affect books when the entire impression is sold off at the full publication price. In truth and reality, however, this is a contingency that but seldom happens. Excluding pamphlets, it may, we believe, be truly affirmed, that, at an average, the original impression of half the books printed is hardly ever sold off, except at a ruinous reduction of price. Now, if we suppose, in the previous example of an edition of 750 copies, that only 225 instead of 725 were sold, the result would be, that only L.44, 19s. 5d. would remain as profit to the author and publisher, and as a compensation for interest, the risk of bad debts, &c. Were only 525 copies sold, the cost would not be more than balanced; and there would be nothing whatever to remunerate the author for his labour, or the bookseller for the employment of his capital. Were only 425 copies sold, government would have received L.42, 15s. Ild. of duty from a speculation, by which the author had lost years, perhaps, of toil, and the bookseller L.40, 4s. of his capital. The mere possibility of such a supposition being realized, would be a sufficient ground for the immediate revision, if not abolition, of the duties; but, in point of fact, such cases, far from being merely possible or rare, are of everyday occurrence.

Those by whom the duties on books were imposed, seem to have proceeded on the rudest analogies. They appear to have thought, that because they taxed leather when in the tan-pit, sugar when in the warehouse, and malt when in the cistern, without exciting any complaint of injustice, they might do the same by the paper, and other materials used in the manufacture of books. They did not reflect, or, if they did, the reflection made no impression on them, that there is a radical difference between the demand for books, or food for the mind, and food for the body. The latter is sure, under any circumstances, to command a sale; the demand for it is comparatively constant; it cannot be dispensed with. If a tax be laid on beer, hats, or shoes, it may, perhaps, lessen in a trifling degree the demand for them; but whatever may be the amount of the tax, the supplies of beer, hats, and shoes brought to market, will in future sell for such an advanced price as will leave the customary profit to their producers. With books, however, the case is altogether different. They are luxuries, the taste for which is in the last degree capricious; so much so, that the most sagacious individuals are every day deceived in their anticipations as to the success of their works, and even as to the sale of new editions. But if a book do not speedily succeed, it is so very ruinous an affair, that a publisher is glad to dispose of the greater part

of an impression at a fourth or a fifth part of its regular price; and is often, indeed, obliged to sell it as waste paper to the trunkmaker or the tobacconist.

On a late investigation into the affairs of an extensive publishing concern in the metropolis, it was found, that of 130 works published by it in a given time, fifty had not paid their expenses. Of the eighty that did pay, thirteen only had arrived at a second edition; but, in most instances, these second editions had not been profitable. In general, it may be estimated, that of the books published, one-fourth do not pay their expenses; and that only one in eight or ten can be reprinted with advantage. As respects pamphlets, we know we are within the mark when we affirm, that not one in fifty pays the expenses of its publication.


Neither must it be imagined that the publishing concern now alluded to, was more unfortunate than such concerns generally Old-established houses, with large capitals and extensive connexions, run less risk, no doubt; but they avoid it, not by declining to publish unpopular works, for their opinions are, in this respect, quite as fallible as those of others; but by declining to publish, at their own risk, any work not brought to them by a person who is known, and the credit of whose name will, they expect, carry off as many copies as may indemnify them for their outlay. Those unknown individuals who are desirous to come before the public as authors, and who have, at the same time to make head against the res angusta domi, resort to such as are anxious to make their way as publishers; and the fruits of their labours will never see the light, unless they find some one of the latter class bold enough to adventure perhaps the whole of his capital upon a cast of the die, or upon the publication of a work which may probably not succeed, but which, if it do, will hardly fail of introducing him, as well as its author, to public notice and favour. It is on this class of authors and publishers-on those who are struggling with difficulties and discouragements of all sorts-that the duties press with the greatest severity. Here they do not merely sweep, as in the majority of other cases, the entire remuneration of the author and bookseller into the pockets of the tax-gatherer; but the fear of being unable to defray the duties prevents many works (it may be, some very valuable ones) from being published.

Now, when such is the fact-when it may be established by unquestionable evidence that one book in every four, and fortynine pamphlets in every fifty, do not pay their expenses, can any thing be more palpably subversive of every fair princi

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