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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Then we decided that we needed a distributor, so we all went to Philadelphia and sold Curtis Publishing Company on going in with us. Bantam Books was started, fifty per cent owned by Grosset and Dunlap, which in turn was owned by us, and fifty per cent owned by the Curtis Publishing Company. We had our meetings down at old Independence Square down in Philadelphia in the board room of the Saturday Evening Post, which was sort of a dream for me. I started out, as a kid, selling the Saturday Evening Post in subway stations. Here I was meeting with the board of directors!

Q:

This is a phenomenon in publishing because there are not too many other corporations, if you will look at it, that would go in together for something that is in a way competitive.

Cerf:

No. As I say, it all worked out because the principals respected and trusted each other. There wasn't one man in this combination who didn't have the full trust of everybody else. If we had included one or two of the shadier characters in publishing, there would have been chaos. Or, if we hadn't been fortunate enough to get a man like John O'Connor to run it, a man whom we all trusted implicitly...

Well, it went along. It was a huge success. There was never any doubt about Bantam Books. It began making money from the day that it started. Then came an unfortunate crisis involving Ian Ballantine. He was forced out of the business that he had brought to us. I thought this a shameful procedure, but the others did not.



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