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I loved it. Dick was a superb salesman. The very fact
that he hadn't read the books made him able to sell them that
much better. Some of the best Hollywood agents, for instance,
are the same. They can sell a property for much more when they
haven't read the book than after they've read it.
Well, Dick Simon arranged to take me on the first trip
up to Boston and the New England territory, and we drove up
in my car and arranged the trip to coincide with the Harvard-
Yale football game up in Boston. I had learned selling in
New York going around with him.
Now, the first trip was very amusing because Liveright
had just published a disaster. Van Loon's successor to The
Story of Mankind was The Story of the Bible, produced with
tremendous ballyhoo, and huge advance sales. But when the
book came out it was clobbered. All the religious people were
outraged that Hendrik Van Loon was writing a sort of Jazz Bible.
The reviews murdered it, and here we were stuck with countless
thousands of books. Because of The Story of Mankind, Liveright
thought it was going to be his great best seller. And before
my first trip, Dick Simon had loaded all these accounts with
huge piles of The Story of the Bible. Books were not returnable
in those days. Today books are sold on a fully returnable
basis. In those days a bookseller had to get permission to
turn back books. So everywhere we went, the first cry was:
“Hey, what are we going to do about this Story of the Bible?”
There'd be stacks of them everywhere we went. That was my
introduction to the publishing business, finding out...
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