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minutes I'll have forgotten all about it. Donald was always
there to say, “Now...” I'd come in with some cockeyed scheme,
and Donald would let me talk about it and then say, “That's
the most goddamned foolish idea I ever heard in my life,”
and walk out. I had to want to do something very much indeed
to convince Don!
What did the Depression do to you?
During the Depression we were sitting in clover. We
had cheap books. The book business has always been a rather
stable sort of business. It doesn't soar when things are going
crazy the way other things do, because when people have a lot
of money they're out at night clubs and expensive theaters
and doing God knows what. But book lovers are usually the
people who don't share in those speculative excesses. By the
same token, when everything goes to hell, books become one of
the cheapest forms of pleasure. So the Modern Library rode
through the Depression magnificently.
You didn't suffer the way so many other businesses did.
No. In fact, every year we went a little bit ahead of
the year before. There's never been a year when we went backwards.
Twice a year we'd add five or six titles. As I recall,
Donald and I divided the Eastern territory between us. Most of
the people who were selling Boni and Liveright books went right
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