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Among the Literati

The death of Rose Pastor Stokes, born Rosie Wieslander, did not come as a surprise to her many friends who attended a dinner in her behalf early this Spring. She had been suffering from cancer and the mixed crowd that gathered to see her off to Germany realized that her days were numbered. Before she left she placed in the hands of Samuel Ornitz, novelist and scenario writer, two trunks filled with her papers and the first draft of her autobiography. She had signed a contract with Covici, Friede for the publication of her life story and Ornitz had promised to write it. The sum she had received from the publishers was to help defray her expenses abroad. Ornitz agreed to do the wok without any compensation. Even her agent, Maxim Liber, served her without pay. In her contract, however, she provided that in the event of her death all rights in the book should revert to Ornitz. He is now at work on the material and expects to have it completed in time for January, 1934 publication.

Mr. H. R. Segal, whose book to cure the ills of this world was published the other day, writes that an exception was taken to his middle name “Robert”. Not at all. Simply the publicity release sent out by Mr. Segal’s press representative gave me the impression that the “Robert” had been recent.

The publishing house of Richard Smith and Ray Long, which was thought to have folded up, is functioning after a fashion under the management of Alex Hammerslaugh who was once in the handkerchie# business and more recently in rea# estate. A Harvard graduate, he has always had a yen for the business of books and for the past two years has been flitting from house to house putting them in order. This is his first real chance to publish without the disturbing influence of an editor

Publishing is one of those “inside” businesses. Things are never what they seem to be on the surface. When one publisher tells another how many copies a book has sold, the listener automatically discounts the figure given. But when a publisher really wants to find out what is what he calls for Louis Green. This dynamic, wiry, sharp-beaked, dark little fellow is the advertising manager of “Publisher’s Weekly,” the trade paper for both the publishers and booksellers. There is little that goes on that his keen eyes miss. If he reads a book and really likes it, his recommendation means more than a blast from a book reviewer—it may not be as literary but it means sales and, strangely enough, that is what interests publishers and booksellers. As a famous bookseller one answered when asked to define a good book: “A good book,” he replied, “is one that sells.”

Miss Reilly, formerly at Macy’s, will do the book buying for Brentano’s. It is the first time in nearly twenty years that a Jew has not held that position…. George Britt, who with Heywood Broun wrote a book about our race, sailed for Germany Friday. On the same day, Helen Margolies, daughter of Joseph Margolies, one of the better known literati, also left these shores. She will do a year at the Sorbonne and probably come back ready to read manuscripts for her Pappy….

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