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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Nonsense. Of course not. You divide up into subjects, and you have various experts in their field concentrate on various subjects. The bigger and more ambitious the dictionary is, the more subjects there are.

By the time that the American College Dictionary came out, as I say, we were in hock to the bank. But a wonderful thing about dictionaries is that a good dictionary always makes money. Once a dictionary is completed, there is no royalty to pay. It belongs to you. It's the publisher's property, rather than dividing receipts with a high-priced author. When it starts selling in quantity, you can make your money back rather quickly because you have no royalty to pay.

The American College Dictionary was a huge success. It won great critical acclaim. It was the first brand new dictionary in a long time. Once again, the old Cerf luck prevailed; and we got out of that pickle very quickly. It wasn't really a pickle. We were doing what twenty businesses out of twenty-two in America do. We were borrowing money from a bank, which none of us liked--particularly Mr. Haas, who was a very conservative man. But some people will tell you that a good business should always borrow money. Most of the big corporations borrow by the millions.


Do you remember how much you borrowed?


About half a million before we finished.

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