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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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had built up a fine little list for a textbook house named Addison Wesley. He had had a fight with the management there and quit. We were told that he was the answer to our prayers. Harper's were after him, too, and so were Prentice-Hall and a couple of other firms. We got him. To my eternal sorrow, we got him.

We gave Mr. Blaisdell a contract allowing him to set up his own business as a division of Random House. We hoped it would eventually fit perfectly into Singer; but at the moment it was his own. To get him, we had to guarantee him absolute freedom of every action. He could do anything that he wanted.


Why did you do that?


To get him. He was a big catch. I told you that Harper's and Prentice-Hall were hot on his trail.


What did Frances Singer think of this at the time?


Well, she didn't know anything about Blaisdell. She couldn't stop us. It was a separate business.

So Mr. Blaisdell immediately fixed up offices much more elaborate than mine and spent a fortune on them. He was a nice enough man--a fine editor, but a bad executive. He began signing contracts for books that could not be delivered for ten years. You know, the textbook business is a tough business. You've got to wait sometimes a long time for a manuscript!

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