Page 25 - 9781935340843_txt.indd

This is a SEO version of 9781935340843_txt.indd. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

5

First old publishing story:

Brentano’s in 1962

February 28, 2009 at 4:49 am

My frst real “job” in publishing was working as a sales clerk at Bren-tano’s fagship bookstore on 5th Avenue in the summer of 1962. I was deployed to the paperback department, which had opened only weeks before.

In those days, almost all real consumer paperbacks were “mass-market”, rack-sized paperbacks. And almost all of what we now call trade paperbacks were academic. My father had really started the concept of consumer-oriented trade paperbacks with the Dolphin line at Doubleday in 1958 and was just then building the Collier Books line for Crowell-Collier (which later acquired and became called Macmillan; all now owned by S&S and not today’s Macmillan via Holtbrinck.)

In this new department, downstairs in the basement, housed with a tiny foreign language department of in a corner, the trade paper-backs occupied chin-high bookshelves through the middle of the sales foor. Against a wall were the mass-markets, displayed by publisher. That was because the Pocket Books, Bantam, NAL (Signet and Men-tor), Ballantine (and other) reps came in and did detail work on their books on a weekly basis. So the store made it easy for them to take inventory and manage their restocking.

The sales clerks, including me, took the inventory of the trade paperbacks and recorded the data on cards that went “upstairs” to Lil-lian Friedman and the buyers to make restocking decisions.

So you had to know who published the top authors, like Steinbeck, because that was how you found them.

This was a long time ago, but I remember two incidents as clearly as if they happened yesterday.

Because I am seriously hard of hearing and this was before the digital hearing aids I have had for ten years that now mask that prob-lem, I had to do all sorts of things to compensate. In those days, there were no credit cards. When people wanted to charge something, they

Page 25 - 9781935340843_txt.indd

This is a SEO version of 9781935340843_txt.indd. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »