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“Cerfboard” as well as the Try and Stop Me column, there
was a powerful lot of Cerf material popping up. One time
DeWitt Wallace came to me and said that, instead of paying
me each time Readers Digest used a squib of mine, they were
using so much of my material, he suggested that they pay me
a yearly rate that would give them the right to use anything
that I wrote. It was a very generous offer, which I was
delighted to accept. I told him at the time, “You're not
going to use that much material. To pay for each one of
them won't come to anything like what you're offering me
now.” He said, “Leave that to us.” Well, for years they
went on that way. As I stopped first “Trade Winds” and then
“Cerfboard” it became an outrageous fee. Finally, the
annual stipend was reduced. They are still sending me too
much and I think that it should stop altogether, but they're
still doing it. Wally always says, “You let us worry about
that.” That's very nice, but I don't deserve it anymore.
One funny sideline, and then we'll stop for the day.
DeWitt Wallace is a very simple man. One day, he called me
up and said, “I'd like to see you.” I thought, “Lordy!
What's up now?" I said, “I'll come right down.” After all,
the Readers Digest Condensed Book project is a source of a
huge revenue. Their choice of one of your books is like
hitting the jack pot. It's even bigger than the Book-of-
the-Month Club. Now Wally said, “No. I'll come down to
see you. I want to talk to you about something personal.”
I didn't know what the heck was coming.
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