Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 1029

walk out with about $18,000 over it, because he went down there in person. We had the books ready? we had the caps ready to send them in. Where the other publishers were just sending out catalogues, our people would walk in and lay the books out on the table, and people would come in and see them and buy them. By the time he left, he'd gotten the bulk of the money. The other publishers got what was left. Of course, they very quickly copied us. Doubleday was right on our heels. But we got the jump, and that was a Louis Miller scoop.

He also started something else that other publishers copied. It's called automatic distribution. We don't waste our time in a lot of the small book stores anymore, having salesmen go in and try to talk buyers into buying books which they send back if they don't sell anyway, since everything is on consignment nowadays. They now trust Random House completely. We send them the books we think they should have. They don't bother ordering them anymore. Of course, if we took advantage of that, they'd stop doing it. Even though they don't pay for the books, they have to pay for shipping them. They don't want to get a lot of books in that they're not going to sell. So we're very careful. That was Lou Miller's concept, too-- automatic distribution. It saved us an infinite amount of trouble, and most of the stores are very grateful to us.


They don't have to take the time--


And we don't try to oversell. We sell them what we think they can sell.

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help