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We were very good friends. I think that I told you
how I met Mr. Knopf...when we bought the Modern Library,
and he called me up and said, “I hope you boys are going to
be more honest publishers than Liveright!" We became very
good friends, despite that somewhat rocky start!
I don't Know when Vintage Books was started.
It wasn't too many years ago. Vintage Books were
really started by Pat Knopf. He was the one that persuaded
his father to experiment with Vintage Books. Then, very
soon, we muscled in. They needed more titles. They
couldn't do the whole thing with just their own list. It
started out just with Knopf books. For a while they had
such an incredibly wonderful back-list that they were able
to prosper, but gradually they persuaded us to put in a
few Random House books. That was when, as I told you, we
began working together.
But the real merger came after we took over Knopf.
Then we really expanded Vintage Books, which is today a
very successful and distinguished line of books. Jason
Epstein we lured away from Doubleday. He's still with us.
He helped start the combined Vintage list.
When I first talked with Jason, I called up Doubleday's
top man, Doug Black, who is a very good friend of mine, and
said, “I want to ask you about Jason Epstein.” Doug got so
perturbed about this that he said, “I'll come down. I want
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