Dewey B. Larson
755 N.E. Royal Court
Portland, Oregon 97232
Apr. 1, 1983
Your message to the members of the ISUS, a copy of which I have just received, is a clear and forceful presentation, and I appreciate the kind words you have said about my books. However, I want to call your attention to the fact that you are doing something that will result in the loss of your non-profit status if it comes to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. You cannot advertise books for sale by the North Pacific Publishers either in display ads or in mailing pieces such as the one you have just sent out. The reason for this should be obvious. It gives the NPP the benefit of your nonprofit status, to which they are not entitled.
What you can do—the program that I suggested, and that was approved at Philadelphia —is to buy books at wholesale from the NPP and resell them at retail. In this way you are going into the retail book business on your own account, which you have a right to do. As I said at the conference, the NPP are willing to take care of filling the orders. They do that for many of the book dealers—this is called making “drop shipments.” But the books will have to be offered for sale by the ISUS, and all transactions with the customers will have to be handled by the ISUS, not the NPP. In other words, in order to stay within the scope of what your organization is permitted to do, the retail book business has to be something that your organization is undertaking independently of the publishers.
I also get the impression from this latest letter that you have in mind advertising the books in the display ads that are proposed. This is not the program that I proposed at Philadelphia, and that the membership voted to accept. I cannot recommend display advertising of the books, as we already know from the experience of the NPP that it is unprofitable. If it were profitable, there would be no problem. The NPP would simply go ahead and do all the advertising that is necessary, and there would be no reason for any participation by the ISUS. But as I said in my letter of Mar. 18, we simply cannot say enough in a display ad to get the case for the books to the point where it will pull in the business. I pointed out these facts at Philadelphia, and what I suggested was that, in view of our inability to advertise the books profitably, it would be worth while to try out the idea of advertising the ISUS.
The mere fact that there is an organized group advocating a change in basic physical theory should be enough to stir up some kind of interest. Then you can use the brochure that I proposed to make the case for purchase of books. Perhaps this program will not work either, but it is worth trying on a small scale, so that you do not take much risk. The NPP are willing to subsidize this kind of an experiment to some extent out of what they normally spend for advertising, so you will have some help with the expense.
At the time I wrote my letter of Mar. 18 I assumed that you were going ahead with the program of advertising the ISUS, as approved by the membership at Philadelphia, and my suggestion as to the contents of a letter to the Christian Science Monitor was based on that assumption. If you were trying to place an ad for the books with the CSM, my suggested letter is, of course, out of order. In that case, you might just as well forget about any further contact with that publication.
I do not want to appear to be trying to tell your organization what it should do. But, on the other hand, I certainly do not want you to go into what is sure to be a money losing operation under the impression that I have recommended it, when in fact, I have recommended something altogether different.