To Alan Collins [Letter 224]

Item Reference Code: 114_15B_016_001

Date(s) of creation

June 24, 1946


Alan Collins


[Page 1]
10000 Tampa Avenue
Chatsworth, California
June 24, 1946

Mr. Alan C. Collins
Curtis Brown, Ltd.
347 Madison Avenue
New York 17, New York

Dear Alan:

Thank you for your letter of June 20th.

I would be delighted if Bobbs-Merrill considered THE FOUNTAINHEAD “too valuable a property to sell”, as Ross Baker told you. My whole complaint against Bobbs-Merrill is the fact that I do not think they consider THE FOUNTAINHEAD valuable enough.

If their opinion of the book’s value remains merely an opinion or a personal emotion, that is of no practical importance to me or to them. An opinion is important only when expressed in action. If Bobbs-Merrill want me to trust them, let them mean what they say: let them show in action that they consider THE FOUNTAINHEAD a valuable property.

If, in regard to advertising, publicity, uninterrupted supply of copies, printings ordered well in advance, etc., Bobbs-Merrill do as much for me as other publishers do for their top writers, I will have no reason to wish to leave them. If they do not, I will.

The truth of the matter is that Bobbs-Merrill want to keep what they consider a top property at the cost (to them) of an average novel. And they hope to keep me on their list on the terms of an average novelist. Well, it can’t be done. Nobody can have his cake and eat it, too.

I would consider it a big favor if you could make this clear to Ross Baker. I have given up hope of my ability to make them understand the difference between talk and action. Please tell them that I am interested in nothing but action.

Now what should I do about this matter of their unauthorized sale in foreign countries? I do not want to use it as a pretext to break the contract, if their breach is not legally sufficient to do so, but I can not accept a breach and let it go at that. There is no conceivable reason (except arbitrary rudeness) why they did not consult me.

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Page 2     Mr. Alan Collins     6-24-46

Bobbs-Merrill were guilty of a similar breach once before, in the matter of the abridgement in Omnibook. Ross Baker told me at the time that the breach was accidental, not intentional, and I accepted his word for it. However, Mr. Chambers at the time wrote to me that the breach was a “fait accompli”, and did not even offer the slightest apology. (That, incidentally, was the turning point in my relations with Bobbs-Merrill and the origin of my mistrust.) I want it clearly understood that I will not tolerate the technique of “fait accompli”. So what do Bobbs-Merrill propose to do about it now?

What I want is: 1. An apology and a written assurance that there will be no more breaches, accidental or intentional. 2. A letter of agreement between them and me to cover the “open market” rights.

When you wrote to me about these rights, you said that I should get the same royalty as I receive on books sold in the United States. I do not know on what grounds Bobbs-Merrill arbitrarily set the royalty on these foreign copies at 15¢ per copy as it stands on their statement. I would like you to negotiate with them on this point, and I will let you decide personally what rate of royalty would be fair. I will leave the figure up to you, but I will expect from them extra payment on the copies sold without my consent at a lower rate.

Since I have consented several times to amend our original contract in favor of Bobbs-Merrill, this is the time when I want them to amend it in my favor. I want you to include in our letter of agreement about the foreign rights, the following amendments: Paragraph 4 of our original contract is to be amended to the effect that the publishers shall have to obtain my consent about the date and time when a popular reprint edition of THE FOUNTAINHEAD is to be issued (if it is ever issued). (I want to make sure that Bobbs-Merrill do not issue it too soon, that is, not until the full-price sale of THE FOUNTAINHEAD is exhausted. They have believed it exhausted so often and so mistakenly in the past that I want to have this protection for the future.) In Paragraph 14 it is specified that the rights to THE FOUNTAINHEAD will revert to me if and when the publishers allow it to remain out of print for six months. I should like this changed to one month.

There is, also, another point in regard to the future which I am wondering about, and which perhaps should be rectified now. My contract contains no provision for what is to happen if Bobbs-Merrill ever go bankrupt. I

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Page 3     Mr. Alan Collins     6-24-46

think there should be an agreement to the effect that in such case all rights to THE FOUNTAINHEAD, as well as the plates and the remaining copies revert to me. (I believe that such provisions are now put into book contracts.) No, I do not expect Bobbs-Merrill to go bankrupt, but since the book apparently will have a very long sale, I would like to be protected against such a possibility in the distant future. I do not insist on this point, unless you think it is advisable. If you do, please include it in the above letter of agreement with them.

As to my next novel, I am progressing on it very well and hope to have it finished by Spring of 1947. But don’t hold me to the date, since I can never tell for sure in advance.

Sincerely yours,


Ayn Rand