Letter from Leonard Woolf to Norman Leys (13/03/1925

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[[MS 2750/255/66]]


Norman Leys Esq 
near Derby




Dear Leys,


I was in bed with a temperature when I wrote to you yesterday and I daresay you will again say that I am not clear, so I have now got up and will try to make myself absolutely clear.


(1) I am not a liar and when I said overpersuade, I meant it. I am inclined and have been inclined all along to think you would be well advised not to reprint. You obviously are anxious to reprint. The longer the discussion proceeds the more disinclined I am to overpersuade you from following your own inclination.


(2) You keep on asking me to do what is impossible. If you [3 illeg. characters crossed out] leave the decision to me, I will take everything into consideration and do what, on the whole, I consider to be best in your interests. If you are going to make the decision yourself, I can give you my opinion and such facts as are available. But I cannot make up your mind for you, and neither I or any one else can tell you even approximately how many copies your book will sell next month. There is practically always a moment with every book published when there is a large and sudden drop in sales. It usually comes within the first six months. It may come at any moment with KENYA, and instead of selling 30 or 40 a week, you will sell about 10 a week, while after another three months, the sales may have dropped to about 10 a month. Of course I cannot say that this will happen or when it will happen--the book may go on selling steadily for another five or six months. If the drop came the week after you have decided to reprint, you might easily in the end have a loss. You told me that it was important that you shod should not lose. At the moment, if you dont [sic] reprint, you will actually make a little. Obviously it is to our advantage as publishers th that you should reprint, but I have been trying to regard the thing solely from your point of view--with the usual result that you now abuse me. If you had gone to any other publisher, he would have stro strongly advised you to reprint, and you would have thought him a fine fellow and a good man of business.


(3) You have all the data for making up your mind, just as I have





weeks and this day six weeks. I repeat that, if you would like me to make the decision, I will take your interests and inclination into consideration and come to what I consider a reasonable decision. But I cannot make up your mind for you.


(4) Meanwhile it is worth n oting[sic] that I have told Clark that we will reprint as you directed me, and he is preparing to do so.


(5) When I wrote yesterday, my mind was probably not acting properly and I was wrong to say that I could not give you any idea of what a cheap edition would cost. I estimate very roughly that you could print 3000 copies and bind 1000 of a cheap edition for £145 i.e.


                                   £          s        d

Reimposing               13        12        6

Machining                 41          0        0

Paper                        60          0        0

                                 115         0        0

Binding                     30          0        0

                                 145         0        0


This is of course a very rough estimate. The first two items are almost certainly accurate, but the other two are guesses, and one might be able to make a fairly big saving on them.


(6) I hope we are not going to quarrel over this. But I think you might believe that I am considering your interests and telling you exactly what I think.



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Reproduced with permission from Penguin Random House UK Archive and Library owner of the Hogarth Press archive collection, held by the University of Reading Special Collections. With thanks to the Society of Authors This item has not been made available with a CC BY-NC-ND licence. Please see the terms of use page for further information.

Source: MS 2750/255/66

Letter from Leonard Woolf to Norman Leys (13/03/1925


University of Reading, Special Collections

Archival Folder:

Leonard Woolf writes and explains that he has a temperature but that he will try to be clearer in his writing. He explains that he has always advised against a reprint but that he does not want to persuade him against his own inclination. He also says that he cannot make decisions for him nor can he accurately estimate sales. He wants to act in his best interests so that he will not make a loss. He states that he has got R. & R. Clark prepared to print and also provides a rough estimate for a cheap estimate. He finishes his letter hoping that they will not quarrel.

Typescript letter signed by Woolf