October 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Unpublished Memoir of Simon & Schuster Co-founder Turns Up

S&S.jpgCould it be that Simon & Schuster co-founder Richard "Dick" Simon failed to find a publisher for his own book trade memoir? Simon and partner Max Schuster launched the book publishing house of Simon & Schuster in New York City in 1924. An 84-page typescript document of Simon's reminiscences, titled Fools Give You Reasons, dating to the late 1950s, is currently being offered in a rare book dealer's catalog for $5,000. The fragmentary memoir discusses how he got into publishing, his thoughts on promotion and advertising, and his feelings about television: "From here television seems like a manifold blessing."

Several of Simon's contemporaries published memoirs of their lives in books, e.g. The Memoirs of a Publisher by F.N. Doubleday (1972), At Random by Bennett Cerf (1977), and at S&S, Turning the Pages by editor Peter Schwed (1984). Alas, Simon's manuscript went unpublished, and had been kept in the family until now. For anyone out there collecting publishers' memoirs, unknown pieces like this are rare.

Listed in the bookseller James Cummins' catalog alongside the typescript was a copy of S&S's first book, The Cross Word Puzzle Book (1924). Under the Plaza Publishing imprint, S&S printed it in a first edition of 3,600 copies, each with an attached pencil. The simple collection of puzzles, bound in blue cloth, had been the idea of Simon's aunt Wixie--and this particular copy in the Cummins catalog was hers, presented and inscribed by the publishers. It has already been sold for $10,000.

Prior to the Puzzle Book's publication, neither Simon nor Schuster had been in the book biz; Simon was selling pianos when he met Schuster, who was editing an automotive trade magazine. But that little collection of crosswords and the ones that quickly followed were huge successes, bringing in $600,000 by year's end. Ninety years later, the company remains among America's "big five" publishing houses.

(Disclosure: I worked at S&S in the late nineties and co-wrote its 75th anniversary book.)

Image: Courtesy of James Cummins Bookseller.