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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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When he left, Alfred was quite heartbroken. Pat was his son, and all of the fighting was just part of Alfred's temperament. He loved his son, and the whole business was ticketed to be his eventually.

His departure left Alfred up in the air. Where was this business going to go to? When I, one day at lunch at the Stork Club, suggested to Alfred that the time might be right when Random House and Knopf, whose ideals had a great deal in common, might merge... I said, “Business details are a bore to you, anyway. You're getting along. Look at it this way. You'll have absolute control of your business and all of the business worries will be over.” To my astonishment, that day Alfred said that he was interested. I said, “Let Donald and me talk and we'll come to you with some kind of a proposition.” So I came back wildly excited to the office because this might be a dream come true. Knopf! Of all the publishing houses in the world, this was the one I wanted to be in with. This was in the spring of 1960.

Donald and I worked out a deal that we thought was very fair. It involved swapping stock, of course, That's another advantage when you have stock. You can make deals and you don't have to use cash. When somebody sells to you for cash, they have to pay taxes immediately. If they can take stock in exchange, the tax bite is postponed. So it's good to have negotiable stock to buy with and it's even better for the buyer.


What was your offer to him originally?

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