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Chapter 61: The Proposal
Moonlight shines upon the porch.
Fan Ruoruo spoke with pity in his voice, "I’ve never seen my future sister-in-law before but I’ve heard that she has tuberculosis and often coughs up blood, and that because of this, she has been banned from consuming meat and oily foods. The girl you described was munching on a chicken drumstick."
She pictured the scene her brother had described and burst out laughing. "So naturally, she could not have been Miss Lin. Anyways, Miss Lin is said to be pretty and delicate- nothing like the goddess you described."
Fan Xian took a moment to think before agreeing with her. He sighed and cast the topic aside, but it didn’t mean he had given up on the idea of looking for this girl. An image surfaced in Fan Xian’s mind which made him frown.
"Tuberculosis?" He knew that in this world, this was considered an incurable disease. Miss Lin was the daughter of the eldest princess, so surely she had been seen to by the imperial physicians, and if they couldn’t help her, what good was his year of knowledge from learning with Fei Jie and continual practice?
Fei Jie’s absence was a troublesome problem.
Fan Xian woke up the next morning to find that his father, sister and Lady Liu had gone out. After eating a light breakfast provided by the servants, he prepared to leave. He wanted to try his luck at the temple to see if he could meet the girl again.
Just as he was about to leave, Fan Sizhe ran towards him and grabbed his sleeves, proceeding to drag him into the study. Fan Sizhe handed Fan Xian some papers, doing so in seriousness. Fan Xian glanced at him curiously and noticed that his brother’s eyes were bloodshot; it looked like he had pulled an all-nighter. "Aren’t you worried about being scolded by auntie for staying up all night?" He asked Fan Sizhe.
Fan Sizhe chortled. "I learned from you how to keep things secret."
Fan Xian laughed and thumbed through the pages. It was a proposal that Fan Xian had worked all night on. Although Fan Xian was not a successful merchant, he went by the saying that even if you haven’t had pork before, you must have seen pigs run. Although the business atmosphere of this world could not be compared to his previous world, he had already had his fair share of experience in this special type of business, so he was somewhat confident.
His brows slowly formed a frown. "It’s not a bad idea, but I’m not familiar with the capital, so you have to decide yourself if the location is suitable. There is one problem: even though I am the only source for this book, how can you ensure that other booksellers will not pirate it after it’s been published?" he asked.
Fan Sizhe spoke excitedly, "The mansion has been pretty quiet recently, so there’s not much for the servants to do. I could let them wander the streets, and if they come across any pirating bookstores, they can simply trash their store."
Fan Xian was dumbfounded. Was his only resort destroying stores? This was far from the high expectations he had for him. Fan Xian shook his head bitterly, "Don’t underestimate the booksellers; they make a lot of profit. Who knows if they have a powerful background."
"What’s there to be scared of? The story belongs to us, so what makes them think they can pirate?" Fan Sizhe argued.
"There’s no law to protect books from being reprinted… And anyways, it’s not as if these books have been approved by the Eighth Bureau; if you take this to court, you’ll just end up losing money out of your own pocket." Fan Xian reminded him.
Fan Sizhe chuckled, "That’s nothing to worry about. If we were to open a bookstore, all we need to do is get father to send a letter to the Eighth Bureau and things will straighten out naturally."
Fan Xian realized that he was right. Although his father looked like an average man, his connection to the Overwatch Council were deeper t

hat what an outsider would think, but he once again changed his mind, "Even if you could take away the ban, you can’t just eliminate competition by trashing their stores; it’s like slapping them in the face. Chasing those middle-aged women off the streets of the capital and prohibiting their stores is a foul method. Even if you earn money, there will be retaliation, and nobody wins." Fan Xian retorted.
"So what?" Fan Sizhe rolled his eyes; he felt like his older brother was like a woman. "If you feel like our reputation is at stake, then we can simply set rules to follow. If the other bookstores continue to pirate the book, we can let the court handle them."
Fan Xian howled in laughter, "Rules?! You think the government would treat the law like child's play and change it just because we are publishing a book?"
Fan Sizhe shook his head, "How can we change the law? We will take a shortcut instead. Changing the garrison regulations is simple. The crazy old lady from the Ye Zhong family is quite close to princess Ruojia; we just asked our sister to ask Jing palace to give word to Ye mansion, and it’s sorted."
Fan Xian was interested, "The garrison regulations of the capital have to do with the selling of books too?" he asked.
Fan Sizhe stopped to think about the question, "I think there are a couple rules about civilian businesses that we can put to good use."
Fan Xian was utterly impressed at the boy in front of him, who had promising potential to be a corrupt merchant who plucked ideas out of thin air like making deals with government officials and having his own personal gang trashing his competition. However, expectation always looked better than reality. "Have you calculated the profit yet?"
"There are ten chapters per book, with each book sold for eight silver taels, and there are sixty-eight chapters in total. The population of the capital is 640,000, so let's say we sell a book for every one thousand people, that's more than 600 copies sold. Careful calculation reveals that it would be a total earning of 35,840 silver taels." Fan Sizhe relished in all he explained, as he had long prepared these calculations beforehand and knew them off by heart. "The rent on Loudong Road is a little expensive when added to the production cost. We can leave Wanjuan Tang to handle the publication, as it would take some weight off our shoulders."
"Wanjuan Tang?" Fan Xian questioned curiously.
"It’s the most famous private publishing company in the capital." Fan Sizhe smiled dubiously. "It’s a big family business, but there’s no powerful figure behind them. If they tried betraying us, we could just steal their business. The only thing we’ll have to worry about is making even more money."
Fan Xian was so appalled he was ready to cough up blood.
"My calculations show that we can at least earn a couple thousand taels, and if other bookstores end up closing, our numbers will only go up."
Fan Xian sighed and said, "You’re too positive. To be a successful merchant, you have to be prepared for many possibilities. Take your estimated income, for example: Even though the people of the capital are well off, do you really think they can afford to pay fifty odd silver taels just for a set of books?"
Fan Sizhe was surprised, looking at Fan Xian like an alien before saying, "You really have no idea how well your story is doing on the market?"
Fan Xian’s eyes widened. He knew that Dream of the Red Chamber was popular in his world during the Qianlong era and remembered seeing on the news that a limited handwritten version was sold for over 100 silver grains. How could they sell it at such an expensive price if they were printing in mass?
Fan Sizhe sighed and said, "These days, I’ve heard that Miss Fucheng from the Fucheng family was left in a state after reading the book. She could not eat or drink, and she stares into the air. Mistress Fucheng burned the books in frustrations, which made Miss Fucheng cry in agony, ‘Why did you burn my treasure.’ She has not quite recovered from it. The capital is a city full of government officials and how many rich girls do you think have nothing to do all day? Selling hundreds and thousands of books is far from a problem."
Fan Xian was flabbergasted. He was unsure whether or not he should bring desserts to pay Miss Fucheng a visit in order to comfort her.

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