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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
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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