National Geographic : 1927 Mar
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE PRICE OF BOOKS This is an answer to a comment sometimes made about the Book-of-the-Month Club. "If I could buy books cheaper from you," some people write, "I would subscribe." What force is there in this objection? OVER 40,000 people, in every walk of life, have already become subscribers to the Book-of-the Month Club. This in teresting enterprise has engaged a group of five well-known critics to choose each month "the outstand ing book of the month." This book is then sent to subscribers just like a magazine. They pay the same price for it (no more) that the pub lisher himself charges. If the book proves to be one that a subscriber would not have pur chased of his own volition, he may exchange it for any one of a number of other new books, simultaneously recommended. Thus his freedom of choice among the new books is no more limited than if he browsed in a bookstore. The members of the Selecting Committee, which chooses the books, are: Henry Seidel Canby, Chairman, Hey wood Broun, Dorothy Canfield, Christopher Morley and William Allen White. Now, why subscribe to this service if one is to pay the same price the books will cost in a book store? Because, again and again, by reason of procrastination or busyness, you fail to obtain and read the really outstanding books. How many times have you said: "I must read that book" Then, months later, you confess to someone that "you never got around to it." The Book-of-the Month Club insures you against this. It puts the book in your hand. You can't miss it. That is the chief reason intelligent people subscribe to this service: not to get "bar gains," but to make sure they will read the books they intend to read. "But this need not prevent you," someone will argue, "from offering books at a lower price, like the German societies." Those who make this argument do not understand the radical difference between the Book-of-the-Month Club and the German societies. The German societies are publishers. Each one publishes its own books, and subscribersmust take each book these publishers get out, whether they like it or not. There is no privilege of exchange. If the Book-of-the-Month Club made contracts with authors, if it published its own books, and if it did not give the privilegeof exchange, it might beable to give its subscrib ers some books at a lower price. Butthat isnotitsfunction: itsfunc tion is to choosefor its subscribersthe outstandingbooks amongall the books that are published, whoever the author and whoever the publish ers, so that its subscribers will not miss those books Since we do not publish our own books, since we must scrupulously consider the books of all publishers without favor, we are compelled to sell any book that is chosen at the same price the publisher charges. For there is not a single publisher of any standing, who will cooperate with us in selling a good new book at one price while book stores areobliged to sell it at a higher price. It is true that perhaps, by "shopping" among publishers (something completely foreign to the whole idea), we might occa- Handed to you by the postman -the outstand ing new book each month I sionally be able to induce publish ers to relinquish some books that might be sold at a lower price. But the only books they could let us have would be "second-rate books." The books by their im portant authors--the books that intelligentpeople do not care to miss - they will never let us have at a bargain price. Why not? Because they themselves cannot afford to. It is a rarity for a good book to sell be low $2.00 a copy, simply because it is impossible for the publisher to sell any good bookfora smaller sum and yet keep his business alive. The cost of manufacture and the rate of author's royalty forbid it. No-the Book-of-the-Month Club would like to be able to favor its present subscribers, and to obtain new ones, with an offer of "the best new books at a bar gain." But it cannot do so, and advertise honestly. For the truth is that, if we did this, none of the reputablepublishers could afford to submit their best books to us for consideration, and thus the whole idea of the enterprise-which is, to enable people to obtain the truly outstanding books-would be al together dissipated. If you are interested in the Book-of-the-Month Club, and wish to know how it operates, send for its prospectus. Its present 40,000 subscribers, comprising what is perhaps the intellectual elite of the country, proves that this is a service that you will find both convenient and valuable. Your re quest for this prospectus will not obligate you to subscribe. BOOK-OF-THE -MONTH CLUB, Inc 218 West 40th St., Dept. 36C, New York, N. Y. Please send me, without cost, your Prospectus outlining the details of the Book-of-the-Month Plan of Reading. This request involves me in no obligation to subscribe to your service. Name.................................. Address.................................... City ................... . State............