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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Another time, George Oppenheimer, who at that time was a partner of the Viking Press, with Harold Guinzburg and a very close personal friend of mine, made the mistake of telling me that they had been stuck with some anthology of sports stories (baseball by Babe Ruth, football by Red Grange, golf by Gene Sarazen, you know)--one of those phony books where somebody ghosted every article. It hadn't sold at all, and they were stuck with several thousand copies. The Olympic Games were coming to Los Angeles that year. So George said, “I've got a great idea. We're putting a little wrapper around our old book saying, ‘The Olympic Games edition.‘That way we'll get rid of some of them.”

I immediately went back to my office and we announced “The Olympic Games edition of The Brothers Karamazov.” Oppenheimer was outraged because it spoiled his whole pitch.

Those were the days when publishers had fun!


You were talking about Gertrude Stein. Did she really make you her slave?


Well, the morning after their arrival, she and Alice Toklas were to come to Random House for the first time. We were on the fifth floor of the building at 20 East 57th Street, on the third floor of this building there was an employment agency for cooks and maids. It was a very elegant agency patronized by all the society people. When Alice Toklas and Gertrude Stein arrived in our building, the elevator boy took

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