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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Q:

And thought.

Cerf:

Yes.

She said, “As a matter of fact, I might be able to do you a favor right away. There is a girl in my block...” In Evanston this was, a suburb of Chicago. You know, it's where Northwestern is, and Bergen Evans can be heard on a clear day. She said, “There's a girl in my block who has written a book that I think is extraordinary. It's been turned down by one publisher, and the agent told her that there was no sense sending it any place else since nobody would publish this book. She is very discouraged, but I think this book has got a great deal to recommend it. I was fascinated by it. If you like, I'll send it to you.”

We said, “Sure. Have her send it.” In, over the transom, came The Snake Pit by Mary Jane Ward. We published it, and I don't think there were ten changes made in the manuscript--it was so perfect. I always use that book as an example of why the publishing business is so damned exciting. It doesn't take a genius to make a best-seller out of books by John O'Hara or James Michener. They are best-sellers before they start. Any clunk could bring out a new John O'Hara book or a new Michener book and see it go to the top of the best-seller list. That requires no skill. But the fun of publishing, the real fun, is discovering somebody brand new and bringing the book out and publicizing it properly and then seeing it possibly chosen by the Book-of-the-Month



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