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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Cerf:

Well, my success was still in the future when he died. He died just about the time we were dreaming of Random House.

Q:

Would this be the early '30s?

Cerf:

No. We stayed the Modern Library from 1925 when we bought it to 1927. That's the year we started stepping out!

The Modern Library had been a roaring success, and the money was rolling in, but there was very little work. By noon we had counted our orders and processed them, so there wasn't much else to do, and we had bridge games in the office and backgammon games. Oh, those were days of easy living! But it soon began to pall. There was no great excitement, and I had inherited some of this restless excitement from Liveright. You know, the excitement of publishing, which I had now been divorced from, because the Modern Library ran itself. These were reprints of books other people had had fun with. I was roaring to get into original publishing.

Furthermore, at this time there was a great craze for beautiful press books--limited editions of beautifully printed books and special editions and a demand for first editions autographed. Mind you, these were the fabulous '20s. Everybody was rolling in money that they were making in Wall Street. Everybody was a financial wizard. And authors that were popular, like Kipling and Galsworthy and Conrad--their first editions were going up like the stock market was. Collectors were paying $100 apiece for a first edition copy of the



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