The dissertation and commerce

Printing the thesis was fairly expensive, some 12,000 Dutch guilders (5500 euro), if I remember correctly, which was quite a lot of money in those days. Still, that was not a problem: I myself had chosen to have a high-quality book with hard cover and loose cover (dust jacket) printed on quality paper. The 'acknowledgment' states that the Carolus hospital also contributed to the costs and I also saw this mentioned in a letter from the Chairman of the Board of Directors, so that must have been the case, but I can't remember anything about it. I have always had a (healthy) interest in finance, so even before my PhD I had been thinking about how I could recoup some of the expenses with the dissertation. At the time, the big money was already in the pharmaceutical industry, so I thought there was something to be gained there.

My plan was to try to sell a large number of copies of the thesis to Glaxo B.V. This company produced various corticosteroids and approached dermatologists very actively. But then they had to have something to get the doors opened, and my dissertation seemed very suitable for that. So I contacted a Glaxo representative I knew and he took the bait. 'It is not the intention that you earn from it', he said solemnly (I didn't ask why not) and he proposed 13,500 Dutch guilders. I was grateful, you will understand.

And so Glaxo bought about 300 of my theses, wrapped them in a nice dust jacket with their name and representatives on it (who would approach the dermatologists), and distributed my thesis in all dermatological hospital departments and private practices. Two birds with one stone: the costs paid off completely and everyone knew my thesis!

A second plan to recoup some of the costs was to make the book commercially available, in other words, offer it for sale. Because all Dutch dermatologists already received a copy from Glaxo, I had to go abroad, especially Europe and to a lesser extent the United States. I don't remember exactly how I did it, but I did find the folder I used for it. Richard Rycroft's book review was printed on the back.

As you can see I expected to get 120 guilders or 65 US dollars for it. And it worked, because I seem to remember selling about 40 of them. But how did I approach potential buyers? Perhaps I sent a flyer to everyone who had published one or more articles in Contact Dermatitis in the years before. I hit the jackpot when a large bookseller in the United States wanted to order 100 books, but for 30 US dollars each. Sold! One big package to the USA!