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Oh, the agents are brilliant. I'm not blaming the
agents for getting just what they can. I'm saying though
that they put a big book up for bidding and there are always
publishers who will start bidding. Then it becomes a game.
Very often you will buy a book, not because you think it's
a good book but because you hear Harper's, Scribner's,
Doubleday, and Viking were after it. It becomes a contest.
I always have likened it to fraternity rushing in colleges.
One day somebody will bring along some pimply-faced, hideous
little brat and you tell him, “What do you mean bringing
that nasty little poop around here?" Then the next day you
hear that three other houses are rushing him, and immediately
it becomes absolutely imperative that you get this kid into
your own fraternity! The same thing happens with books.
The word gets around that there is hot bidding for a book,
and you want to get in on it. You don't want to be left
behind. You don't want to be forgotten. In fact, I've often
bawled an agent out for not sending me a book that I'd
heard was going to be a big prize. He'd say, “I knew that
you'd not want this book. It's going for too much money
and it's not your kind of book.” But I'm hurt that I'm left
out. I'm a fool about things like that.
Now, do you have anything else to say today?
Let's see. Well, in 1938 too, we published a book
that is a perfect example of a property that sometimes
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