This letter is part of extensive correspondence between Rand, Collins and Ross Baker (sales manager of Bobbs-Merrill’s trade book department) regarding royalties.
This letter was previously published only on the Ayn Rand Institute website.
August 6, 1946
Mr. Alan C. Collins
Curtis Brown, Ltd.
347 Madison Avenue
New York 17, New York
Thank you for your letters of July 24th. I am sorry that you did not corner Ross Baker with the only question I wanted answered, which was: why did they not consult me before they made sales in the open market?[*] They have never answered this, and all the rest of their explanations are completely irrelevant.
At present they are making me lose the open market sales entirely, since they will not even negotiate about this market, and since they take the position that I must not only accept their arbitrary conditions, but also accept their right to have taken this market without permission. Unless I do so, I cannot have the book sold on the open market, and since I will not do so, they are now responsible for a direct financial loss to me, through a method of doing business which comes awfully close to blackmail or high pressure. I will leave it up to you as to whether you will permit this to go on or not. I should think that this much can be settled without going to court. As for the rest, I will consult an attorney about it.
I may come to New York later this fall and settle this in person, but I do wish you could save me some of the trouble.
Page 2 Mr. Alan Collins 8-6-46
As to IDEAL, I was shocked to hear that you had submitted it to Shumlin.[**] I am sorry that I did not warn you against doing this. Please make it a matter of irrevocable policy in the future not to send any work of mine to any producer or publisher known as a Communist. Do not send IDEAL to any producer who has an established pink reputation, such as the following: Oscar Serlin, Shepherd Traube, Orson Welles, the Playwrights’ Company or any left-overs of the Group Theatre. I do not know all of the current crop of red producers, but I will leave it up to your judgement to inquire about them and not to submit my play to those whom you find to be pink. Please be as careful about this as you possibly can. You must surely realize that those people will never produce anything of mine—nor would I let them produce it.
*“Open market” sales refer to discounted sales via middlemen.
**Herman Shumlin (1898–1979) was a well-known producer of Broadway plays, including Inherit the Wind and four plays by Lillian Hellman. His obituary in The New York Times described him as “a passionate political liberal” with “a strong sense of social commitment.”
On August 14, 1946, Collins responded that he thought Bobbs-Merrill “were doing you a good turn” by selling in the open market. He also told AR that he had sent the script of “Ideal” to Shumlin “with tongue in cheek, for I wanted to see, in the light of his political prejudice, what his reaction to such a forthright script would be. Unfortunately, he sent it back without comment.”