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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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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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