Among the Literati

To look at him and hear him talk you would never suspect that Max Salop has the reputation of having saved the book business. Publishers and other people cannected with the “entertainment industry” have a way of getting themselves in the papers but Max is an exception. He has remained sincerely hidden.

Working in his brother’s second hand shop on 125th Street in New York Max conceived the idea of buying up those books that publishers found themselves unable to sell through the regular channels. Buying in large quantities he was able to amass a huge stock. He placed them in drug and cigar stores and invited the public to exercise its inability to pass up a bargain. His business prospered and today he buys more books than the jobbers.

Not content with selling publisher’s overstock he decided to do some publishing of his own. No new books for Max—he would give the public what already had stood the test of time. To this end he issued editions of the classics, printed a high price on the packet of each book and then offered them at greatly reduced prices. It paid.

Max Salop lives in the Bronx, he owns his own home and is proud of it. It is filled with books. He is of medium height, borders on plumpness and talks with a decided Jewish brogue. Although his check might sometimes read “One thousand” dollars, it is acceptable at the bank. He is not a reader. He buys books by their size, jacket and general appearance. A big book is worth more than a small one, a flashy volume more than a sober one. He is convinced that a bargain is a bargain. He may look a little like a man who deals in second-hand clothes but the publishers welcome him with gusto. He pays spot cash, doesn’t quibble over prices, says what he means and sticks to it. He’d rather play pinochle than curl up with a good book and says so, but he prefers to sail a boat even above pinochle. He is still in the navel reserve corps with which he served during the war. He never takes a book for nothing, even as a personal gift, but he will refuse to take your money if you ask him for a book. He has no desire to meet authors. Books are business and he is a business man, one of the very few in the business.

The word “remainder” in connection with books seems to puzzle many book buyers. In publishers’ lingo a remainder is a copy of a book that has not been a successful seller. A publisher issues a book and prints an edition of 2,500 copies—after six months or a year 1,000 copies have been sold and there seems little likelihood that any more will be disposed of. What is the publisher to do with the remaining 1,500 copies? The answer is that he will “remainder” them, sell them to people like Max Salop at prices ranging from 10 cents to sixty cents a copy. These are the books that you see on the bargain counters of drug and cigar stores.

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