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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

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.

Q:

Why did you do that?

Cerf:

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

Q:

What did Frances Singer think of this at the time?

Cerf:

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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