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Y 




THE WAY IT WAS: FIFTY YEARS IN THE 
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK TRADE 



Louis Epstein 



Interviewed by Joel Gardner 



VOLUME II 



Completed under the auspices 

of the 

Oral History Program 

University of California 

los Angeles 

Copyright (c) 1977 
The Regents of the University of California 



This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to the 
University Library of the University of California at 
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the 
University Librarian of the University of California 
at Los Angeles. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 
VOLUME II 

TAPE NUMBER: VIII, Side One (July 2, 1974) 344 

A censorship case: Memoirs of Hecate County — 
Herman Mann arrested at Pickwick--Court 
proceedings --Appeal denied- -Constitutional 
uncertainties--Censorship and the bookseller-- 
Pornography--Political censorship--Pressure 
from left and right--Lecturing three young 
Birchers--Political philosophy--Los Angeles 
politics . 

TAPE NUMBER: VIII, Side Two (July 2, 1974) 369 

Paul Lamport--Opposing images of Hollywood 
Boulevard--An embezzlement cast — Other Pickwick 
employees: Herman Mann--Ben Latting--Lloyd 
Harkema--Bob Bennett and Dick Marshall-- 
Robert Wettereau — A philosophy of numerous 
titles--Courtesy in the Pickwick--"Taking 
over the saloon." 

TAPE NUMBER: IX, Side One (July 2, 1974) 394 

Bookstore list--Bill Smith--The Martindales-- 
Walter and Virginia Martindale--Lloyd Severe-- 
Jewish-American Bookstore — Ver Brugge's — 
Lillian Deighton--Solomon ' s Bookstore — Harry 
Dale — Brentano's on Seventh Street--Joe 
Chevalier--Hollywood Bookstore — Harry Wepplo. 

TAPE NUMBER: IX, Side Two (July 15, 1974) 418 

Eugene Bechtold--Larson ' s--Brentano ' s — 
Western and eastern bookstores contrasted-- 
Brentano's in Beverly Hills, 1974 — Adco — 
De Vorss--C.U. Branch — Selling door-to-door — 
Peggy Christian--M. Harelick. 

TAPE NUMBER: X, Side One (July 15, 1974) 442 

Mel Royer--Acres of Books — Harry Levinson — 
Jack E. Reynolds--Max Hunley — Kurt Schwarz-- 
Howard and Reese--The Perkinses--The Yales — 
The Needhams, 



IV 



TAPE NUMBER: X, Side Two (July 15, 1974) 466 

An attempt to unionize Pickwick--Disagreement 
with Wilbur Needhain--Politics in Hollywood — 
The Larry Edmunds Bookshop--Milton Luboviski-- 
Antiquarian booksellers — Walter Neuman--The 
Briers--Arthur H. Clark — Karl Zamboni--Phil 
and Helen Brown — John Cole — Abbey updated: 
Juan Pinans--Nick Kovach. 

TAPE NUMBER: XI, Side One (July 29, 1974) 491 

Antiquarians--Nick Kovach--Cambridge Bookshop — 
Lee Freeson--Larson ' s--Kurt Melander — Roman 
Novins--Mel Royer--Founding of the Southern 
California chapter of the Antiquarian 
Booksellers Association--Standards of 
membership — Value of membership--Interchange 
of knowledge--Leaving and reentering the 
chapter--Cherokee Book Shop. 

TAPE NUMBER: XI, Side Two (July 29, 1974) 515 

Involving Jewish booksellers in the United 
Jewish Welfare Fund--Outside activities of 
booksellers — Heritage Book Shop--Theodore 
Front — Marian Gore--Publishers ' represent- 
atives--Role of the salesman--James D. Blake — 
Importance of backlist to new-book seller-- 
Louis Friedman--Harrison Leusler--Carl Smalley — 
Ray Healy — Jess Carmack — Ellis Baker. 

TAPE NUMBER: XII, Side One (July 29, 1974) 540 

Salesmen: Charlie Johnson--Denny Chase — 
Raymar--Erret Stuart — Bob Cohen — The Nourses — 
"Second-generation" salesmen. 

TAPE NUMBER: XII, Side Two (August 13, 1974) 562 

Southern California Booksellers Association-- 
"Cavalcade of Books" — The organization today-- 
Publisher-bookseller relations — First officers — 
Involvement with American Booksellers 
Association--Growth of ABA in the sixties — 
Purpose of ABA — Criticism by new members — 
Current situation. 



V 



TAPE NUMBER; XIII, Side One (August 13, 1974) 586 

Dick Noyes--Duties of ABA president--Changing 
goals of ABA--"Mr. Pickwick" column- -Aaron 
Epstein's contribution to Pickwick--Branching 
out — A digression on Kaspare Cohn--The first 
branch, Topanga Plaza--Negotiating with May 
Company- -Further expansion — Dayton-Hudson 
offers to buy Pickwick. 

TAPE NUMBER XIII, Side Two (August 13, 1974) 611 

Dayton-Hudson's approach to Pickwick-- 
Background of Dayton-Hudson--Dayton-Hudson 
and bookstores--Decision to sell--Trend 
towards dehumanization of the book trade — 
Proliferation of chains--Changing nature of 
stores--Future of Louis Epstein. 

Index 636 



VI 



TAPE NUMBER: VIII, SIDE ONE 
JULY 2, 1974 

GARDNER: I thought we'd start out this time talking about 
[ Memoirs of ] Hecate County and that whole story. 
EPSTEIN: In 194 7, the book by Edmund Wilson came out, as 
everyone knows. It was a fairly dull book for the people 
who ever read it through. But it had two or three pages 
in which he gave some fairly intimate descriptions of a 
sexual act. Things were not quite as open then as they 
are today. Considerable opposition to the sale of it came 
up from various organizations — not necessarily organizations, 
but individuals, powerful individuals, one of them, Randolph 
Hearst, who was at all times at odds with Edmund Wilson, 
the author, for some of the things Hearst claimed Wilson 
did and Wilson claimed Hearst said. So I personally be- 
lieve, and I've had it verified by [someone] who knew 
some of the background of their controversy, that it was 
strictly a hatchet job by Mr. Hearst and his editors for 
the pleasure of Hearst. At any rate, the situation came 
to a head in several places in the United States — New York 
City and, I believe, somewhere in the Midwest and in Los 
Angeles. The book was in stock in every bookstore in the 
United States, and no one considered it a bad book. It 
got the usual literary credits, but it had no particular 
sale until it started being attacked. Then, of course, 
people wanted to read it, wanted to know what all the 

344 



hullabaloo was about, and it was a tremendous disappoint- 
ment to 99 percent of the people who bought the book. 
Edmund Wilson is not the easiest person to read — by no 
means . 

The book, as I said, was on sale in all bookstores. 
In this city it was in every department store and in every 
bookstore that carried new books. The wholesalers had it, 
and it was being openly offered by everyone. And we had 
no problems with it until this campaign started. Well, 
one day — I recollect it was about the middle of the summer — 
a troop of policemen walked in. They knew we had the book 
because one of their detectives had come and bought a copy 
the day before. Well, they followed it up the next day, 
and they grabbed all the copies of Hecate County , and they 
arrested one of our employees, Herman Mann — about as in- 
nocent a person as ever lived. (Poor Herman has since 
died. He left a fine record in the book business, having 
worked in Brooklyn at Abraham and Straus and also, locally, 
at Bullock's. And he used to meet customers from Abraham 
and Straus who now lived here or visited here; they'd re- 
cognize each other. That is another story.) Well, they 
arrested Herman. They took him to jail, and we eventually 
bailed him out. At the time of the arrest I protested, 
"Well, why do you arrest him? He only works here." "Well," 
he says, "it's a corporation." They couldn't arrest me — 
I was president of the corporation — because the corporate 

345 



thing, you cannot be arrested and put in jail. "I per- 
sonally didn't sell the book," I said, "but I'm respon- 
sible for having it here." Well, that isn't the way the 
law worked. The trial, of course, came up some months 
later. We tried to get onto the stand witnesses to show 
that the book was a good piece of literary writing, and 
the prurient scene was incidental to the story and didn't 
go on and on offering scenes such as that throughout the 
book as straight, dull pornography does. But, no, the 
judge at the time wouldn't hear anything of it. 
GARDNER: Do you recall who the judge v;as? 
EPSTEIN: It may be in the story. [looks at newspaper] 
This is the appeal. At any rate. Judge [Mildred L. ] Lillie 
heard the appeal. I don't recall the man's name. It'll 
probably come back to me a little later. He was an ob- 
stinate old fool, and I think he was playing to the grand- 
stand of Hearst — who, of course, was watching every move 
and making comments at the time. We lost the case. [phone 
rings; tape stopped] The corporation was convicted, and 
Herman was convicted, but he was let off with a minor fine. 
The publisher of the book, Doubleday and Company, furnished 
our defense counsel. They were very, very nice about it. 
GARDNER: Who were your attorneys? 

EPSTEIN: Our attorney was — the judge's name was [Arthur S.] 
Guerin. (I work backwards.) Ray Stansberry was the at- 
torney, and Guerin was the original judge. And then the 

346 



case was appealed, and it later came before Judge Lillie, 
who is now, I think, in the superior court or appellate, 
I believe. But Guerin was a pompous sort of a guy, and he 
wouldn't listen to any defense at all. He actually prac- 
tically told the jury that we were guilty from the start. 
The attorney, Stansberry — the judge ordered that the whole 
book be read in front of the jury, and Mrs. Stansberry sat 
there for three days reading that darn thing. But because 
of the pressure of the Times and the pressure of the Examiner 
and the judge's conduct in court, we were lost from the be- 
ginning. 

And the law at that time was very unclear, anyway, 
that you could be arrested for almost anything if anyone 
wanted to complain that it was obscene. It was surprising 
to me that more books didn't come under that, except per- 
haps the prosecutors were too busy to do anything about 
those things except when somebody influential in the 
community raised an issue for whatever reason. Very 
often such issues were raised in communities for political 
purposes so somebody can get publicity out of it, that he 
is the savior of the youth of America. Of course, people 
like that are always suspect in my mind. 

It went up on appeal, and unfortunately Judge Lillie, 
because of the law as it stood, could do nothing about re- 
versing the case. Judge Lillie and I have met on many 
occasions since, and we always have a laugh about it. She 

347 



maintains that she always regretted that she had to 
rule against us, but there was no way she could possibly 
rule any other way at that time. The U.S. Supreme Court 
had never clarified that point. It wasn't until later 
that they had such a thing as "v;ithout any literary value" 
or "without any social import" as part of the definition. 
And I notice now they've even changed it again to make it 
even more uncertain as to v/hat is and what isn't. They 
leave it to every community to decide for themselves, and 
so the poor bookseller--well , such as the Pickwick, who 
had thirty branches all the way from Bakersfield to 
Hollywood — which community is he going to put a book in? 
And how is he going to be protected from being arrested 
in Bakersfield and not arrested in San Diego and maybe 
arrested again in Fresno and not arrested in Hollywood? 
GARDNER: And the ordering 's all done from Minneapolis. 
EPSTEIN: Right. And the ordering is done from Minneapolis, 
It's an impossible situation. I can't understand the 
thinking of supposedly nine wise men in the Supreme Court 
making a decision like that. Well, the wise men were 
against the decision. If I may go political, I think 
it's the Nixon appointees who are out to save the world 
from pornography--well , I won't comment any further on 
Nixon. 

GARDNER: Oh, feel free. 
EPSTEIN: If his Supreme Court appointees are no more 

348 



honest in their thinking than his other appointees in 
his own office, I fear for the United States. This is 
actually true, in my mind. It's such a great danger 
that the Supreme Court has all that power to declare 
things constitutional or unconstitutional. If they don't 
think straight, the country's in grave danger. If they're 
following their appointer because of his principles, then 
they're not lav/yers for the United States; they're lawyers 
for him. 

At any rate, that's the story of Hecate County . 
GARDNER: Well, what happened finally? 

EPSTEIN: Well, finally the penalties were paid, and busi- 
ness went on as usual. The book was withdrawn from circula- 
tion. Of course, it's now on every paperback-book shelf. 
It's never been acclaimed as a literary success. It was 
quietly laying its own egg, and it should have been allowed 
to do so. If it wasn't for Mr. Hearst, it probably would 
have. It would have gone down in literary circles as a 
novel written by Edmund Wilson, appeared in bibliographies; 
and scholars would have said that he did it, and nobody 
would have understood what he was talking about anyway. 
But that is what happens very often when the cudgels are 
taken up for saving the human race. 

GARDNER: Can you think of any reason in particular why 
Pickwick was chosen? 
EPSTEIN: It was not only Pickwick. Actually, I should 

349 



have inentioned--this has always rankled me--that in view 
of the fact that every department store had it and all the 
stores in the country, that tv;o stores were picked out. 
Not only Pickwick--there was a little tiny store on West 
Sixth Street that was being operated by Harry Wepplo. I 
think it's Lofland's old store. When Lofland retired, 
somebody bought him out. And then Harry Wepplo was helping 
him, and then they started taking in new books. It was 
originally an old-book store. But poor Harry was also 
tried, he and Herman Mann. Curiously, they're both very 
short, tiny people, both very mild-mannered. Herman was 
more mild-mannered. Harry later opened a bookstore in 
Farmer's Market. But those were the only two stores. 
GARDNER: Any reason? 

EPSTEIN: Department stores were not touched. Of course, 
the reason given was, well, the department stores at that 
time were very heavy advertisers in the Examiner . So if 
Hearst was behind it, he would protect them. But it was 
pointed out to the court that only two stores out of 
dozens [were affected]. Well, of course, the comment is 
that you don't have to arrest every criminal. There's no 
defense that other people committing the same crime have 
not been arrested. Very often it's impossible to arrest 
every one of them--which is perfectly legal; I can under- 
stand that. But nevertheless it's curious that the Pickwick, 
which of course was right in the heart of Hollywood, the 

350 



city of Sin--so-called--and the other was downtown, a 
little secondhand bookstore. I don't know what they 
were trying to prove by arresting him. I can understand 
the psychology of arresting the Pickwick in the midst of 
the City of Sin, but I can't see the psychology of the 
law of ficers--unless they were going to arrest everybody 
in blanket f ashion--that they would pick on poor Harry 
Wepplo. 

GARDNER: Did he have to pay the same fine? 
EPSTEIN: Oh, yes, the fine was nominal. As I say, the 
defense was provided by Doubleday and Company, the pub- 
lishers of the book, so we were not out financially except 
the horror of going down to court for days and days and 
days at a time and living through the agony of being ac- 
cused of selling a pornographic book which is no more 
pornographic than thousands and millions of other things. 
Well, that's pretty much the story of Hecate County . We 
got a lot of good press from some of the more liberal 
papers, and of course the literary community in Los Angeles 
was all stirred up for two reasons: number one, why the 
arrest was made; and number two, why the defense was not 
allowed to testify that this book was not offensive to the 
public, that the public could read it and not be offended 
at all. Well, no such defense was to be allowed, only the 
reading of it, and the jury had to make up its own mind. 
It was a little bit of a stir at the time. 

351 



GARDNER: Did the [American] Civil Liberties Union come 
into it at any point? 

EPSTEIN: No, they did not appear. They did not appear 
on the scene. None of the public organizations appeared. 
And I don't think it v;as absolutely necessary for them to 
do so at the time. We had sufficient legal counsel, and 
we were getting good publicity out of our side of the 
story — except, of course, from the Hearst papers, which 
continued the attack at all times. 

GARDNER: What about other censorship cases in the course 
of your career? 

EPSTEIN: Well, surprisingly, with the exception of hard- 
core pornography, which bookstores don't handle — it's 
handled by a different type of person; it never appears 
in regular bookstores. . . . (Well, I won't say "never"; 
I'm sure that there are some small booksellers who might 
have a few of those things under the counter or in a drawer 
of his desk. There's no question about that. But the 
regular bookseller never really bothered with that.) Most 
of those things are or were sold either by peddlers or by 
some newsstands in certain parts of the area. It's an 
underground thing. It was not part of the regular trade. 
I recollect in the old, old days when I was still early 
in the used-book business, early in my career, there were 
people who would come from the East and carry — in their 



352 



cars or however--pornographic books, Fanny Hill and such 
as that. And they would come to offer them to the used- 
book sellers, and, I suppose, to the new-book sellers, too. 
And if a person had one or two people who were very anxious 
to find a copy, very often we would buy one. There's no 
question about it. And we would sell a piece of pornography 
from time to time, but we were very, very careful and cir- 
cumspect about it. We didn't believe in censorship even 
then. But we knew v.'hat would happen to us if we broke 
the rules. And curiously, the people who were buyers of 
erotica in those days were not little schoolkids . They 
were not tramps. They were substantial people in the 
community. We had one man who was a major officer in a 
major bank who was collecting pornography. And during 
the course of my career I sold him several pieces of porno- 
graphy. He was a fine, substantial citizen. He raised a 
fine family and a very literary family. Not only did he 
buy pornography, but he bought other things, too. It 
wasn't a question of his mind being preoccupied with it. 
Women would buy--at least half of the customers for porno- 
graphy were female. 
GARDNER: Is that so? 

EPSTEIN: Oh, yes. To this day the saying is that if it 
were not for the female public, most of the so-called erotic 
novels being circulated today probably wouldn't make the 
grade. I'm not a psychologist, and I won't go into the 

353 



psychological reasons for it; but that's what they say, 
and from my own experience, women buy most of that type 
of novel. When you come back to this pornography busi- 
ness, it's been going on since time immemorial. I have 
reprints at home now--I ran across a number of the Bohn 
Library editions. I don't know if you're familiar with 
them, but they republished the early classics from Pliny's 
Natural History to Procopius and any number of the early 
Greek and Latin writers; and even in those days they had 
what they called erotic literature. Very well known. And 
they're still being reprinted today. But you see, when 
they reprint one of those, when they reprint Johannes 
Secundus , they reprint it as a literary classic. Of course, 
they use a different type of language, and they approach the 
problem in a different way, but the intent is there. Maybe 
they might have been a little bit more literary in their 
day. I ran across about a half a dozen of those classics. 
I have them right here in the next room. 
GARDNER: We'll have to read from them. 

EPSTEIN: Well, you'll have to do the reading from them, 
[laughter] 

GARDNER: But there were no other major censorship cases 
that affected Los Angeles? 

EPSTEIN: Those few cases that did appear when a person 
was arrested were not really, in a sense, a censorship 
case as Hecate County. There was really no defense for 

354 



them at that time. Now they have defended Fanny Hill and 
found it innocent. V-Thether Fanny Hill being tried today 
under the new Supreme Court ruling would come off scot 
free or not, I don't know. 
GARDNER: It's impossible to say. 

EPSTEIN: It's possible that some community, if you apply 
strictly community standards — for instance, a copy was 
sold, say, in an Amish village in Pennsylvania and they 
had a jury of that type. Or we could name quite a few 
communities where a thing like that might happen. The 
book was sold everywhere in the country, and this particu- 
lar county, because of the nature of the citizens and their 
beliefs, it might be found to be offensive to them. And 
that is apparently the only rule. 

GARDNER: As a bookseller, what are your feelings about 
censorship? 

EPSTEIN: My feelings about censorship is that they serve 
no purpose, never have, and never will. Censorship has 
never eliminated pornography. Censorship of conduct has 
never eliminated bad conduct. Censorship of almost any- 
thing has never eliminated the thing that it wanted to 
censor. I think history will bear that out. People were 
burned for witchcraft, and there's just as much so-called 
witchcraft today as there ever was. People were prosecuted 
for writing pornography, and as long as there are men to 
write, pornography will be written. And as long as there 

355 



are people living, they will want to read pornography. 
I had an instance. Well, when the new wave of the so-called 
pornographic novels came out, there was considerable crit- 
icism by some people, and a great many of our customers 
were very much upset because we sold that type of thing. 
Now, for instance, when everybody started selling the 
Fanny Hill --we'll use that as the classic example— we were 
severely criticized for selling it. And we had to defend 
ourselves to some of our customers who believed that be- 
cause it had had such a bad reputation that it should 
continue to have it and not be sold except whichever way 
it had been circulated. 

One man wrote to me , a customer of many years' stand- 
ing, and I answered him. He complained about this thing 
being offered to young people and so forth, that it would 
hurt their morals and all that. And I explained to him in 
my own way. What his reaction to my letter was after he 
got it, I'll never know, because I never heard from him 
again. Whether he continued to be a customer of the shop 
or not, I don't know either, because I didn't know him 
personally. But at any rate, I wrote and told him that in 
the history of censorship, censorship has never been effec- 
tive, and in spite of censorship, people who want to read 
those things usually find them and can find them. They've 
never been unavailable in the total sense. He made some 
remark about children reading it; and I told him that I 

356 



had read pornography, and I'm positive my children have 
read pornography, and I'm sure that their children are 
going to read pornography, and that we do not consider 
ourselves an unusual family in that sense, nor a family 
that lacks morals. It's just a natural curiosity. And 
I don't think it will affect any one of us in any particu- 
lar way, morally--or psychologically, for that matter. I 
remarked to him what my children were doing, that one was 
a scientist with his doctorate and doing research work, 
and that the other son was in business with me doing very 
well at that. And we enjoy an excellent reputation in 
the community. Now, what effect that letter had on the 
person, I don't know. But I've always defended it. 

There are various kinds of censorship. There was the 
censorship of the McCarthy era and the censorship of the 
Birchers, the America Firsters; and there is the censor- 
ship attempted, many attempts at censorship, even by the 
extreme left in Hollywood during their heyday when they 
were very powerful. Here, again, I don't want to go into 
a discussion of politics, but these are facts that these 
things have happened, and they happened to me: that a 
Bircher would come in and see two books, one alongside 
the other; and he would take the book he didn't like and 
he would throw it at me and say, "Why the hell do you carry 
that old book, that Communist book? Close my account." 
Well, okay. If he would listen to me , I would try to 

357 



explain to him that a bookstore cannot censor the public's 
thinking. It cannot censor a writer's writing. A book- 
store is a place where the community can find an exchange 
of ideas. If you've got a better idea, you write it. 
Publish it. We'll sell it. But you've got to give each 
a chance for the public to make up its own mind. That's 
my theory of what a bookstore of our type was. T can 
imagine a bookstore that's run as a little personal shoppe 
by a person who likes to sell the books he likes. I agree, 
He has a right--and a duty, perhaps in his own mind--to 
sell only the things he likes and the ideas he likes to 
propagate. But a general community bookstore such as the 
Pickwick stores have always been, I don't think has a 
right to do that. And I have been taken to task for sell- 
ing anti-Semitic books by the same organization to which I 
have made contributions--and still do, over many, many 
years — for fighting anti-Semitism. And I have to explain 
to them that the book that they were complaining about was 
definitely anti-Semitic, that I got no pleasure out of 
selling that book, but as a community bookstore, I felt 
it was proper — not only proper, but almost necessary--for 
me to stock that book. It certainly wasn't for the fact 
that I might want to make a few extra dollars out of that 
particular book, because it never did sell that well. The 
amoxint of money involved was minimal. 
GARDNER: What book? 

358 



EPSTEIN: There again, I can't flick it off my memory 
right like that. I'll think of it. [ Iron Curtain Over 
America by John Beatty] And I explained to Mr. [Milton] 
Senn, who was at that time with the Anti-Defamation League — 
poor chap, he just recently died — that in my mind it would 
be better if a person who wants this particular book would 
come into a store like ours and buy it and see other books 
that might be more enlightening than to go to that character 
who had bookstores. Smith, that preacher . . . 
GARDNER: Gerald L.K. Smith. 

EPSTEIN: . . . Gerald L.K. Smith's store and find nothing 
but anti-Semitic literature in there. And that gave it a 
sense of proportion. Well, he didn't particularly follow 
my theory, but I convinced him that he had no right to 
complain about me selling that book because in my position 
I could not exercise a censorship of what I would think 
would be the community thinking. 

The surprising thing about censorship is that men who 
are very human in every other respect, and would complain 
about censorship no end, and fight to their death prac- 
tically would come in and say, "Louis, why do you handle 
this fascist book?" And they'd take the book and literally 
throw it out, throw it either at me or at the counter. I 
mean, they wouldn't make any attempt to hurt me. And they 
were people that I knew, who had been customers of mine 
for many years. And I would say to them frankly, "Look, 

359 



you SOB, if you want to be a censor, get the hell out of 
here." Some of them I knew well enough to talk to like 
that. I said, "You have no right to complain because I 
sell that book. I sell the books you like, too, don't I?" 

During the height of that type of thinking we had 
many cases. One particular case I may have mentioned is 
where a group of three youngsters came in. They were Birch 
Society supporters. And a certain paperback came out 
against the Birchers--! can't recollect its name now-- 
and they were incensed over the fact that various stores 
were handling it. And so a group of three youngsters 
came to me . . . . Oh, Birchers are fantastic letter writers, 
They're threateners. Most of the time they won't sign their 
name. Anyone who sent me a letter with their name signed to 
it, I personally answered it, explaining my position. Once 
in a while I got a nice letter back telling me, well, it's 
very clear thinking but they still didn't agree. Anyway, 
they were by no means fair about it. Well, this group of 
three youngsters came in, and they complained about that 
particular book. And they explained to me that they had 
already visited the wholesale house for paperbacks and 
that they were going to drop it because of the pressure of 
Birch. They had visited the May Company, and May Company 
was going to drop it. They visited another department 
store, and they were going to drop it. Department stores 
are extremely sensitive to any type of criticism. As 

360 



regards that, they have no backbone whatsoever. I mean, 
if they want to sell something, there's no reason why they 
should be pushed into a corner by some group or this group 
or that group. At any rate, the youngsters came in and 
explained all that to me, that they had succeeded in do- 
ing all this and would I do the same. I said, "No, I will 
not do the same." And then I proceeded to give the three 
of them a long lecture of why I would not do the same, why 
our store could not do the same, and why I personally thought 
that they were totally mistaken in asking me to do the same. 
I explained to them the principles of freedom of speech and 
that we were handling two or three books that came out at 
the time which were Birch books--very severely criticized 
by the other side for handling them--and that there's no 
reason that they should not take their chances in the 
marketplace of ideas, as any other idea. If you've got 
a better idea, then people will follow it. And I explained 
to them of the censorship cases that had happened in the 
early days of the formation of the country. I explained to 
them of the article about free speech. I think I left an 
impression with those youngsters. I could see the attitude 
on their face was not as antagonistic and aggressive and 
holy as it was when they walked in. And to their credit, 
they politely thanked me for listening to them, and I 
thanked them for listening to me . I said, "You boys are 
young, and you should study this issue to a degree greater, 

361 



perhaps, than has been called to your attention. If the 
censorship could work both ways — if the extreme left 
were. ..." The fact that they themselves were able to 
publish their books in which they say there's a conspiracy 
against them; the conspiracy has never bothered to censor 
them. VThy should they act in reverse? 

Anyway, I must have given a good talk, because I know 
that several of my clerks had gathered around to listen all 
through this. They said, "Mr. E, that was a damn good 
talk." I was very serious about the issue. I thought to 
express myself to youngsters. I gave them a good deal 
more time than I might have to an older person who might 
have wanted to give me an argument. But meet those three 
youngsters on the street, and you'd take them for just 
average, good American youngsters. They had been sold on 
the idea that the country was being run by Communists for 
Communists and nothing but Communists, all the way up to 
the top. At that particular stage, I don't think the liberal 
community was that strong. 

GARDNER: We haven't talked about your political affiliations 
at all. 

EPSTEIN: I don't have any political affiliations in the 
sense that I am a straight party man. I register as a 
Democrat, but I would just as often vote for a good Repub- 
lican if I think he's a better person. I think the party 
labels are in many instances misleading. And I think a 

362 



party label will very often push a good man into doing 
bad things really against his own good thinking because 
he feels he has a certain loyalty to a party. If our 
two-party system was that strong in this country, it 
would have to be subject to more criticism in Congress 
on a party basis. We would have to adopt the British 
type of rule. If they lost a vote of confidence, they 
were out. Under our system, which does not provide for 
that, in some ways it works at a disadvantage. Of course, 
no one can gainsay that our government has probably stood 
the test of time as well as any government in Europe. It 
doesn't always work out the best, but on the whole I guess 
it is the best. But I think too many people are befogged 
by party labels. I don't agree with that. 
GARDNER: So you've never been active for one party or 
another? 

EPSTEIN: I've never been active. I've sent money to 
candidates. I suppose you would call me a supporter of 
liberal candidates. By the same token, I can criticize 
a liberal candidate if he's a weak person. After he gets 
elected and doesn't get the job done, there's no reason to 
reelect him because he happens to have a liberal label. 
A lot of liberals, I think, are not self-critical about 
the representatives we send to certain elected institu- 
tions. The tendency of a label is to make everybody run 
as a bunch of sheep and to follow the label rather than 

363 



their good sense. I take my liberality with a large 
grain of salt, knowing the liberals are just as human 
as nonliberals. Morally, I think [that] they're probably 
not any better. Their standards initially might be 
higher, but I think they're just as liable to tempta- 
tion as anyone else. And I'm old enough to know that 
people are tempted at certain times in their lives, cer- 
tain situations, either by actual money or by power or by 
glory or by the success syndrome. 

I totally believe that human nature being what it is, 
we will never have a perfect government. There's no such 
thing as a perfect government. I can't conceive of it, 
and I don't think anyone else can. It can't be achieved 
by party labels. It can only be achieved by individuals. 
And I think a good individual, no matter what his party, 
in a powerful office can exert more good than the party 
can: a strong man who lives by principle, who knows what 
is good and then tries to attain that good. And I think 
about as close to a person as I can think of is— and I 
still call him Governor Warren — Chief Justice [Earl] 
Warren. Not that everything he did necessarily was of 
the best, but of a person with a party label, supposedly 
Republican, I think his theory of justice, his theory of 
government, is closest to my way of thinking than any 
other before or since. On the other hand, I think 



364 



a [Franklin D.] Roosevelt served a purpose at the time, 
but I think he served too long. I think the country 
would have been far better off if he had not been elected 
the last time. 

I think a lot of politicians happened to get into 
situations, a lot of presidents got into situations over 
which they had no control, and suffered because the events 
were such that they overwhelmed the country and they over- 
whelmed the man--like the Depression. [Herbert] Hoover 
was a good man. I think he might have been an excellent 
president. But I think he just came in at an inopportune 
time for himself. No man at that time could have done 
well--let's put it that way. 

My politics are very simple. I have friends who 
get all excited about elections, and I sometimes get ex- 
cited about elections. There are certain people I would 
hate to see in office, and there are some in office now 
who I hate to see there. But on the other hand, look, 
they were elected by the populace, and the populace will 
eventually become disillusioned with them. These are the 
risks we have to take in a popular form of government, in 
a democratic form of government, a republican form of 
government. 

GARDNER: We have a little bit left on the tape, so I'll 
follow this line before we go into something else. What 
about local community politicians, people like city 

365 



councilmen that you've had to deal with? 
EPSTEIN: Well, we've had some good men, some very poor 
men. I think we have a good man in office right now 
[Mayor Tom Bradley] . His predecessor, I never did like. 
He was a snide person. 

GARDNER: You're speaking of [Sam] Yorty. 

EPSTEIN: Yes. He attempted to degrade everyone who was 
against him. He had a way of remarking about people which 
was devious in a sense that he would say something which 
was not of itself bad, but which you knew that he meant to 
say for a denigrating purpose. I think one of my pet 
peeves has been the Dodger Stadium affair. You know, 
for that reason I've never been to Dodger Stadium, even 
though I've been invited to go free. People have offered 
the tickets to go there, and I just won't go. Now, whether 
I'll continue to be that obstinate, I don't know. But I 
think that was a scandal that should have been dug out and 
dug up. In my own mind I'm convinced Norris Poulson prob- 
ably might have been — I'm not sure that he was paid off, 
but he later admitted that there was quite a bit of hanky- 
panky going on. Those were the exact terms that he used. 
But he was determined to get a baseball team for Los Angeles 
at any cost. Well, the stupid person--in my mind he was 
stupid. I think the Dodger people were so anxious to get 
out of Brooklyn that they would have given anything to 
come here, that we did not have to give them a ball park 

366 



and build roads for them and give them all that very 
valuable land. If it could be used for a ball park, the 
city could have used it for recreation for its own citizens, 
if not for other things. Now, they need land for this thing, 
they need land for that thing--for storage warehouses and 
one thing and another--and the city has to go out and pay 
millions of dollars for land. And here they gave them 
excellent land. Of course, it might have cost money for 
the city to grade it and that, but they did spend the 
money anyway. You know, when they say that the city spent 
X number of dollars, I estimate in my own mind that what- 
ever figure they use as x, the total expense was probably 
5x, because of all the necessary things they did for pre- 
paration--the boulevards they built to get to the ball 
park, the off ramps that they made. Well, fine, it's nec- 
essary. But if somebody comes in and wants to do it as a 
private enterprise, what is the city getting out of it? 
He has a very successful operation, but the city gets 
nothing out of it. They've got a little bit of playground, 
I think; and then one other piece of ground that was prom- 
ised to the city, I don't know whether they ever gave it 
or not. My memory fails me on all the details. That's 
one of my pet peeves. [tape stopped] 

GARDNER: What about local councilmen and so forth with 
whom you've had to work around Hollywood? Was any of 
them good, bad? 

367 



EPSTEIN: Well, actually, we've never had to work very 
much with our local councilmen. They don't affect our bus- 
ness in any particular way, except the only one who tried 
to actually get into the hair of our business was a man 
we knew very well, a neighbor of ours who had a building 
across the street--he had the medical building just on the 
opposite side of the street from where we were--whom we 
considered quite a good friend and whom we supported with 
money in his campaign--Paul Lamport. The first thing 
when he got in, he wanted to make a Park Avenue out of 
Hollywood Boulevard. And he wanted to get fine stores 
and fine hotels. So he immediately started a campaign 
against secondhand bookstores or bookstores or anything 
that didn't suit his conception. 



368 



TAPE NUMBER: VIII, SIDE TWO 
JULY 2, 1974 

EPSTEIN: Paul, whom I knew quite well and Aaron knew 
quite well (we worked together on various projects for 
the community, chamber of commerce and whatnot) , turned 
out to be a very self-seeking person. He had this medical 
building; he wanted to advance his property — which we all 
do. We owned property on Hollywood Boulevard, too, at 
that time. But he, as I said, thought to make it a Park 
Avenue or Fifth Avenue, New York. He missed the boat 
by forty-five years. He immediately started a campaign 
against Pickwick Bookshop having their display on the out- 
side of the shop, which had been there for thirty-some-odd 
years and nobody complained about it. And he picked out 
several shops that were — in the way of drawing people to 
Hollywood Boulevard--some of the leading shops that there 
are. The Wax Museum, which happened to be in the block 
where his building is, he attacked very much. And the 
building was owned by a Matt Silvers, who helped support 
Hollywood for many, many years before Paul came into the 
picture. Paul, I think, was an opportunist. Well, he was 
a crony of Yorty. Yorty put him up for council, and he 
was elected. And immediately on his election he started 
throwing his weight around. But fortunately he was de- 
feated the first time around. He antagonized everyone whom 



369 



he had to work with, because he wanted to impose only 
his ideas. He antagonized a lot of property owners 
around there. He was going to tell them what was to be 
built on their street and what not. The people living 
on North Curson, v/hich ends in a small canyon: he was 
all for opening up that little canyon for building. It 
was totally unsuited, the street. Curson is comparatively 
narrow, and he antagonized half of the Hollywood community. 
At any rate, there was an example of a man who had no busi- 
ness in politics. He never should have been elected. All 
he saw in politics was to gain ends that would be beneficial 
to him and to people around him. That is the kind of local 
politics that I will fight against. Most of the time, we 
take a moderate view of the man who is our councilperson. 
GARDNER: And have very little dealings with him? 
EPSTEIN: No, except as supporters of the chamber of com- 
merce when we were in business and other community things 
that we were involved with then. I never directly, through 
the chamber of commerce's executive secretary, would have 
to approach them, and we became acquainted with them. As 
our business grew, we were considered major people in the 
community of business on Hollywood Boulevard, so they would 
come to visit us, just to be introduced and leave an idea 
that they thought might happen, sometimes to talk over 
something. We always stated our politics. I don't con- 
sider it politics: we stated our position clearly to them, 

370 



and if we liked it, we backed it up with maybe a few 
dollars from time to time when it needed it. If it was 
a candidate that we thought was admirable, we helped with 
money--which is as I think every good citizen would and 
should, considering that costs of campaigns are so fan- 
tastically high now. Everybody seems to think that the 
more money they spend, the more successful they will be 
in their election. I can assume that some money is ab- 
solutely necessary now with the days of widespread communi- 
cation. 

GARDNER: You mentioned before a case having to do with 
embezzlement. 

EPSTEIN: Well, that was a purely almost personal thing 
as to the Pickwick. We had a bookkeeper who just took 
advantage of our lack of following our own rules, a dis- 
regard of our own rules. The chap's name was Joe Herman. 
We hired him as a bookkeeper, and we thought he was an 
excellent bookkeeper. He was very willing to do whatever 
we asked of him, had figures ready for us whenever we 
wanted them. He was very pleasant, and we got very well 
acquainted. We'd eat together two or three times a week, 
eat our lunches together. But here again, if you don't 
know a person's background, you really can be seriously 
hurt. The people whom we inquired of when we hired him, 
where he worked before, gave him an excellent recommendation, 
But we learned later why. At any rate, one January fifth 

371 



or sixth or seventh--! don't know the exact date; he used 
to come in early to open the store and go to the safe and 
count the money and so forth — he wasn't there. We looked 
where the money was supposed to be, and it wasn't there. 
And we started looking around for other things, and they 
weren't there. At any rate, we discovered that the man 
took off with a woman--although he had a wife and a number 
of children--and that by the best of our accounting he 
absconded with about $35,000 in cash. And he did it this 
way: during the Christmas rush, we were all so eager to 
work hard and make sales, we neglected to watch our bank 
balances and bank deposits. He would deposit the checks, 
but not the cash. Well, between about the fifteenth or 
twentieth of December and fifth of January, a lot of actual 
cash comes through that cash drawer, and that's what he 
took. Then he destroyed all the cash records and things 
like that. The actual amount probably might have been 
higher except we had no other way to check the accounts 
absolutely. We had our cash register tapes, and we had 
our checks, and we took the difference between. But there 
are other areas which he could have gotten. Then we found 
that he had made entries in the books previously. He was 
a very clever guy — he did it very cleverly — but he was 
eventually caught. We had a hell of a time proving a 
case against him. It was only because I had kept a daily 
record that he gave me each day during the course of the 

372 



Christinas business, comparing Christmas day by day to 
the year previous. And he would give it to me on little 
yellow slips the size of a three-by-five card, which at 
the end, when they got the final results for the year, I 
should have thrown away. But for some reason or other, 
I threw those daily slips into [a drawer] . I must have 
been changing clothes and I needed a new handkerchief; 
these might have been in my back pocket. I just threw 
them down, and they got into that drawer. And I dis- 
covered those slips six months later during the time when 
our case looked very doubtful and the district attorney 
told us it was doubtful. He almost was on the point of 
dropping it. 

GARDNER: Why was it doubtful? 

EPSTEIN: Because bookkeeping cases are extremely hard to 
prove to a jury. We had no original records. He destroyed 
them. All we had was the cash-register tape and our bank 
deposits. He didn't think that the jury would go for that. 
But when I discovered those slips in his handwriting, in 
which he said, "This is what we took in," then it verified 
the cash-register tapes. They could say somebody could run 
a tape off, set the register to run a tape off, which he 
was trying to say. So when I found that, I called the pros- 
ecuting attorney and I told him what I found. He said, 
"Bring those down right away. [claps hands] This clinches 
our case." And sure enough, it did. Oh, they tried every 

373 



which way. He tried to say that Stackhouse — our manager-- 
and I kept a duplicate set of books for tax purposes to 
cheat the income tax people, tried to say that Stack and I 
stole the money. There wasn't a thing that he wouldn't 
try to do, but of course, he v/as very evasive on the stand. 
Well, he was convicted. And he appealed the case, and he 
was in jail because he couldn't raise bond. Well, some- 
body furnished bond for him. And while he was out on appeal, 
he got another job and did the same damn thing. He's never 
been found since. He ran off. When he knew that his trail 
was getting warm, he ran off. 
GARDNER: That's incredible. 

EPSTEIN: That is_ incredible. They've never found him. A 
very smooth talker and a very likable guy. He'll do any- 
thing for you. 

GARDNER: Were there any tidbits like this that happened 
with other bookshops around town? 

EPSTEIN: Oh, we've had dishonest employees who've gotten 
away with $1,000, $1 , 200--branch managers. Yes, those 
things have happened to other shops. It happens in every 
type of business. Sometimes a good man, for some reason 
of pressure or something, will go sour all of a sudden, 
and he'll almost compel himself to do something--not be- 
cause he wants to, but because he feels he needs the money 
to defend himself against something or whatever purposes. 
Human nature's a peculiar thing. Many good people are very 

374 



often forced into situations in which they have no control 
over their actions. They really don't want to do it; they 
know it's wrong; they don't want to do it. But they feel 
compelled to do it. Maybe they get in a bad social circxim- 
stance in which money might buy them out or give them 
temporary relief. Sometimes they do something wrong and 
are blackmailed into various things. I think most crimes 
are committed — that type of crime--because the money's 
right there in front of them; and they just think, well, 
they'll outsmart the other person. And many of them just 
take the money and run — without a plan. This man had a 
plan, and we've had other bookkeepers who've gotten away 
with minor amounts of money. But when you meet them 
later and ask them, "Why do you do it?" (It just happened 
to me.) "Well, I needed some money." I said, "Well, what 
did you need it for? Why didn't you ask me for some money? 
You know my door's always been open for a hundred, two 
hundred sometimes, when one of my employees gets in a 
jam--or even more." But, well, he felt it wouldn't be 
the right thing or he didn't want to confide in me or 
whatever. That's the type of thing that happens. 
GARDNER: Maybe this would be a good point to talk in a 
little detail about some of the Pickwick employees. Last 
time we talked about Stackhouse to some degree, and in 
talking about Hecate County we mentioned Herman Mann. 
Maybe you'd like to talk about him in more detail, describe 



375 



his affiliation. 

EPSTEIN: VJell, I think I mentioned Herman Mann before. 
Herman was probably the nicest person whom we ever met, 
in the sense that he was very cooperative, very con- 
scientious, very honest, very mild-mannered--almost 
saintly, in a sense — and extremely loyal. Now, he 
worked, as I mentioned, with Abraham and Straus in 
Brooklyn. And he became a very good friend of the 
family, in every sense. We included him in almost 
every family affair that we've had. 

But he would not take responsibilities. He would 
not assume responsibilities. He was unable to tell any- 
one else to do something. Whether it was fear--I suppose 
it's a type of fear — of antagonizing anyone, but he would 
rather do some things himself. And for that reason he 
never was pushed up into higher ranks of the business. 
And he was satisfied. He knew it. He was satisfied to 
be in the position he was. He was one of our senior 
clerks. We gave him as much responsibility as we thought 
he could stand, or that he wanted. And he had the respect 
of everyone he ever came in contact with. He would go to 
great lengths to seek out a book for a customer. On his 
days off he would go around looking for books that his 
customers asked him for. And very often he'd run across 
some very hard-to-find things. The poor man developed a 
bad heart. Ann thinks that he must have had rheumatic 

376 



fever when he was a youngster because he never was a 
person of great energy. And he died — about five years 
ago now. 

We had a number of other employees who were interest- 
ing in the sense that they were good book people or had 
other characteristics. Ben Latting, who has been with 
the company for a great many years, is an excellent book- 
man. He, too, for years fought off responsibility because 
of his temperament. It was a different type of temperament 
from Herman Mann, much more forceful and much stronger. 
But because of his belief that no man should govern another, 
for that reason he wouldn't take responsibilities to tell 
people what to do and see that they do it — and suffer the 
consequence if they didn't do it. Of course, responsibility 
gives you a certain authority to use it. But lately he has 
turned around a little bit. He's still with the company. 
He's a very fine person but hard to warm up to. He 
doesn't warm up to people. People think that he's aloof, 
and in some ways he is. But a very good bookman--he knows 
his books thoroughly. He's been a good employee to the 
Pickwick. 

GARDNER: How long has he been there? 

EPSTEIN: Oh, he worked downtown for the Argonaut with 
Ben for a great many years. Altogether, he's been with 
the Pickwick at least twenty-five years. 

Guy Thompson has been with Pickwick a good many years 

377 



and is now one of the managers of the store. Reliable 
and resourceful. He is of Greek origin. Good bookman, 
but has to work under a very restrictive system for a 
good bookman. 

Lloyd Harkema has just retired. We went to a 
dinner v/ith him. All the group around the Pickwick 
wanted to give him quite a nice dinner or luncheon or 
whatever, but he wouldn't go for it. He insisted, no, 
he'd rather go individually to lunch with others from 
time to time. He was a very good employee in many ways. 
Lloyd is the kind of a guy who wants to be too good to 
too many people — or good to everybody, I should say, which 
is difficult to do, [and] which got him into a good many 
difficulties, not great difficulties but sometimes em- 
barrassing situations because so many people whom you 
meet are out to take advantage of you. And a great many 
people did take advantage of Lloyd. He was almost naive 
about certain things. But he meant very well, and he was 
very loyal to the shop. He always tried hard to make as 
many good sales as he could, and he did. And he was able 
to handle situations sometimes, assuage a customer's anger 
or take over a situation that was turning bad with some 
clerk who was being obstinate or whatever. (The customer 
becomes angry, you know. It's a two-way deal. Sometimes 
the customer becomes obstinate, and if the clerk becomes 
obstinate at the same time, you're in trouble. The theory 

378 



I used to try to propound to my people: "When this 
guy's hot, you stay cool" — which is a good theory, if 
you can control it to some extent.) But Lloyd on the 
whole was an excellent employee, and Pickwick, I think, 
is going to miss him, miss him in the sense that he lent 
a certain amount of personality to the store. He knew 
so many people individually. Now the only person left 
who's been there any length of time, who works on the 
floor, is Ben Latting. And Ben is not the outgoing type 
that Lloyd was. However, I'm sure Pickwick will survive. 
GARDNER: What was Lloyd Harkema's background? 
EPSTEIN: He came from New England. He came to us after 
army service. He had attained the rank of a captain. He 
tried selling insurance, and he tried working as a detail 
man for some large grocery company, I think, or Standard 
Brands or something like that. But he didn't like it, or 
for whatever reason he left them and came to Hollywood, I 
think, with the idea of becoming an actor. Especially 
people just out of the army, they build up these things. 
But he always was a visionary of one kind or another. He 
came in and asked for a job, which we gave him. He liked 
the job. But then later on he studied acting, and later 
on he studied other things. But apparently he found out 
that he wasn't suited for it, and he was smart enough to 
maintain his job with us while he was trying other things 
He tried being an agent for a while. But those things 

379 



just weren't for him; he just didn't have the total back- 
ground, the total personality for it. So he always came 
back to the book business. Then he decided, well, he'd 
better stay with it now. He got those other things out 
of his system. He became a good bookman. He had an 
excellent memory for people and faces and their back-" 
grounds; and very often, with my horrible memory for 
names and faces, I would use him as my tool. We developed 
a code that if I'd give him a certain kind of a nudge, he 
knew to look up and tell me who was coming. [laughter] 
I would know the person, I would converse with him, but 
I would be darned if I could remember the name. I would 
remember what they bought, the kind of books they collected, 
but I couldn't remember the name. And I will think of it 
now. 

Oh, I could describe many other people who worked 
for us, but I don't know if they'd be of any special in- 
terest to anyone. There's a certain attraction about a 
bookstore that brings a type of person--sometimes the 
rebellious type who can get lost in books, who can't 
maintain a job anywhere else, in the sense that the 
discipline of a bookstore is different from the disci- 
pline of an office or the discipline of a factory. They 
can forget about discipline when they're thinking of the 
books they're selling, the ideas. We had people who were 
so in love with books that they couldn't do their work. 

380 



There's a chap who now works for another bookstore 
[Tony Russo]--whom I happened to bump into, as a matter 
of fact; I went into the store he works at just purpose- 
ly to see him. He's an excellent bookman. I'm speaking 
of the days when we had problems with him. He would 
never be available to do the work of a bookstore. He 
would always have his nose in a book or a periodical or 
a piece of paper. He could not resist the reading of 
type. He told me the other day--there was a third per- 
son there, and I mentioned to that third person that my 
biggest problem with so-and-so is that I couldn't get him 
to get his eyes off type, that it was an attraction he 
couldn't resist. It could be anything. This little piece 
of paper here, or any other. He told me, "You know, Mr. E, 
my wife complains about this very same thing. I'll be sit- 
ting at the breakfast table, and I'll read all the things 
around the boxes of the breakfast food if there was noth- 
ing else to read." But he's an extremely intelligent guy, 
and I think he's overcoming that to quite a degree. I 
think he's disciplined himself. But can you imagine that 
that was the only thing I could find wrong with the man? 
But it was a terrible thing that he became, in a sense, 
almost useless to us because of that. And we tried to 
break him of that habit. He knew that he was wasting 
half his days. But we would give him a box of books to 
open, and he would have to find out exactly what each one 

381 



was about--which was great if there wasn't other work to 
do. But he would never have an opportunity to use that 
knowledge in the store because he would never find time 
to wait on the customer. 

Then v;e had the usual number of failures and people 
who were this, that, or the other. We had some people 
whom we had trouble with because they were on drugs, which 
we didn't know for some time, [and] a number of Hollywood 
people who wanted to make Hollywood and couldn't, which 
is inherent to the community. 

GARDNER: Well, when you had the secondhand shop, people 
like Bennett and Marshall and so on passed through. Were 
there any later during your new-book period who moved on 
to their own shops? 

EPSTEIN: No, Bennett and Marshall, I think, were the 
last of those who came and later opened their own shops. 
Marshall worked for me ^^7hen I was still on Eighth Street. 
We hired Bob Bennett when we first opened Pickwick on 
Hollywood Boulevard. They were much too high caliber for 
the jobs that we had to offer at that time. Had they 
come at their age after we'd established the Pickwick, 
where we could have used the qualities they had to a 
greater degree, I doubt whether we could have retained 
them, because I think their ambition was quite high and 
their capabilities were quite high. But this was during 
the Depression years, and they were capable people holding 

382 



down very minor jobs. Of course, they were both much 
younger. They were both very young, as we all were at 
that time. When Dick Marshall worked for me, I think, 
well, I might have been a year or two older than he, 
because he was not. ... I don't recollect how old 
Dick was when he died. At any rate, Dick worked for 
us for a while, then left and went into buying and sell- 
ing of books. Then he went to work for Dawson. And later 
on Bob Bennett worked for Dawson. 

They came up at a very fast pace. They were very 
fortunate. They found one or two customers who were very 
wealthy, who took a great interest in their becoming a 
success. They backed them with either buying a lot of 
things from them from time to time, loaning them money 
to buy larger libraries than they could afford, and 
introduced them to other wealthy people. One of the 
women in particular, so the story was told to me, would 
hold a salon and have them bring their books, or other 
things, and have these wealthy women come in on that 
particular day. And they would do their selling act. 
They were good salesmen. They were nice personalities, 
in the sense they could explain to people how these things 
could be handled. 

Bob was a very fine person. Dick was a harder person 
and more aggressive in the sense that he wanted to make 
money much faster than he did, although they did extremely 

383 



well towards their later years. But they had a struggle. 
My brother tells me--he was right across the street from 
them, and he knew them at a certain time much better than 
I did during that period--that they were having a hard 
time until this certain woman became very much interested 
in them and really gave them a terrific push up, which 
helped them a great deal. I suppose they were deserving 
of it, because Bob probably provided this woman with a 
lot of things she wanted and needed. To her, it was a 
thing. She was a maiden lady who had to have some kind 
of an interest, and books were her interest. She wanted 
to spread it. It's a give and take. She got something 
and they got something. 

GARDNER: There was one name that I found when I was going 
through this list of the antiquarians who was affiliated 
with Pickwick, Robert Wettereau. 

EPSTEIN: Oh, Bob Wettereau, oh, yes. Bob Wettereau — 
the poor man has since died. It's just horrible for me 
to have to tell you of all the people who died, and they 
died before their time. Bob was certainly not old enough 
to have died. He died while on a trip to Europe. Bob was 
a very fine young man. He came to work for us. His back- 
ground I don't think too much about, except that he mar- 
ried this girl from Texas, a very fine girl, and they had 
their first child while he was working for us. He came 
to me as a clerk. He was far above average in intelligence-- 

384 



far above what the average clerk's intelligence was — 
and his interests were much higher and more literary. 
He was greatly interested in art, and he had a good 
knowledge of art. As a matter of fact, he later went 
to work for Flax in Westwood and built up a very fine 
business in art books for them simply because of his 
own knowledge. Now, what's happened, that department I 
hear has gone almost to pot. The last I heard, they 
hired a buyer who at one time had worked for us to do 
the buying; when I heard that she was going to be the 
buyer, I knew that she could not do the job, didn't 
have the background involved for it. At any rate. Bob 
stayed with us for quite a while. We tried to develop 
an art department which he could run, but we just didn't 
have the resources for it at the time. And he tried very 
hard, and he developed a lot. Then we gave that idea up 
and put him in charge of paperbacks; and he did very well 
with that--as far as he could at that time. Whatever he 
did, he did well. He was a good talker. The only complaint 
we might have had is that there were too many discussions 
going on when there might have been other work to do. But 
that's to be expected of that type of a person. However, 
our type of business didn't allow for a great deal of ex- 
penditures of time on individual customers. And he is the 
person whom Anais Nin became very close with. I think she 
took advantage of him in many instances by inducing him to 

385 



give her much more space than she was entitled to at 
the time and getting him to do things which were more 
to her interest than to the shop's interest. In spite 
of the fact that she looks like an ethereal person, al- 
most to be blown away, goodness, she was a hard person. 
At least, she proved herself in dealing with us. Very- 
pushy. But that is her nature. 

GARDNER: We went through that last time, right. 
EPSTEIN: You have my account of what happened, her go- 
ing out and taking the responsibility of buying books 
for us. That really tripped me up. But Bob left us and 
went to work for Flax. He did an excellent job there, 
and I was sorry to hear that he died at such an early age. 
GARDNER: Any other Pickwick employees you'd like to run 
through? 

ESPTEIN: There are a few I'd like to mention — for other 
reasons than their qualities. [laughter] For the most 
part, I've mentioned those that have done well for us now. 
Of course, Elliot Leonard, I gave you his background, and 
I've told you a good deal about Stackhouse and his service 
with the Pickwick. During the formative days of the Pick- 
wick, Stackhouse was the keystone of the business. He 
carried on for a good many years, for which we're very 
thankful. Although he was rather proud of the Pickwick's 
progress later, I don't think he completely liked the ex- 
pansion and the way it affected him, in the sense that 

386 



his end of the business, the remainder business, was 
circumscribed somewhat. We got so large, we had to 
carry such a large inventory, that the company complained 
about it--rightfully. That was his style of doing busi- 
ness; it was the antithesis of the way a large company 
operates. Whereas we didn't pay strict attention to 
inventory figures and were still quite profitable — and 
I think the fact that we didn't pay strict attention to 
inventory figures in the sense that we would want to 
control our inventory and make it as small as possible. 
We worked almost the other way. We carried a tremendous 
inventory of books that no one else would carry. And we 
could rightly be accused of not being overbusinesslike 
because of that. It probably would have been more 
profitable if we had carried fewer copies of the books 
we did carry, and maybe fewer titles. But as long as 
the business was showing a good profit, why, I felt-- 
and he felt--that maybe that's the secret of our success, 
by not being too businesslike. And there is something to 
that--at least for a business of our type. If we were 
selling shirts and so forth, we would have accurate 
figures of exactly how many we sell of a certain size; 
we'd have to choose at the end. In my buying, I had to 
choose for almost 40,000 titles a year, plus all the books 
that had ever been published before that were still in 
print. I had a greed for titles, you might say. I don't 

387 



know what other expression to use. I wanted to have as 
many titles as possible — if I thought they were good 
books, very often, if I knew there was a demand for them, 
even if I knew that they were not good books. They were 
not books that went out to make people bad, but they might 
have been badly written or maybe too amateurish. But if 
there were enough amateurs who wanted them and didn't 
want the better books, then we gave them the book that 
they wanted. It was not our province to tell them. We 
tried to tell them, "Put the two, one next to the other 
and show them. This is the better one." Like in the in- 
stance of selling dictionaries: People ask me, "Which is 
the best dictionary?" Well, you really can't give them an 
answer. You can, perhaps, in telling them, "Well, the best 
one, of course, is the unabridged." But when they get into 
the collegiate size and the smaller ones, it's hard to tell 
a person v/hich is the best. Each has some points about it 
that make it superior in that particular category to the 
other. Some people will buy a dictionary simply because 
the type is better; they can read it. Other people will 
want to know how many different kinds of entries, and 
what type of spelling or orthographies they have, or 
what hints they have on how to use words. How can one 
tell really which is the best book for the person? Very 
often we could, and we did, tell them. That is the reason 
we always carry such a variety of things. If I made up my 

388 



mind that the World Publishing Company was the best 
dictionary, and my customer says no, he wants a Merriam, 
I'm not about to stop and argue with him and say, "Look, 
you' re wrong. " 

I walked out of a store the other day because I 
went in to buy something, went in to buy a filler for 
a fountain pen. Now, how can you think that two people 
can become involved in an argument about a filler for a 
fountain pen? Well, I have a Cross pen, and I want a 
certain color. And this girl showed me a color which 
was a blue-black instead of a black. And I wanted a 
black. I wouldn't mind if she had tried to explain to 
me that these are practically similar. She thought they 
were similar. But she used the term, "Are you trying to 
tell me that I don't know?" Which of course antagonized 
me. I said, "Look, lady, I'm not trying to tell you any- 
thing here. Goodbye." And I walked right out. 

But this is the kind of a thing: we try never to have 
a person argue with a customer. We tried to have a variety 
to show them. But if they chose the lesser one, well, may- 
be that's why the lesser one was published. We always 
tried to tell them, "Look, never argue with a customer, 
even if you know that the customer is wrong. Just say, 
'Well, maybe. Maybe you're right,' if the person particular 
is adamant, because number one, you're not going to change 
his mind if they're that adamant, and number two, why argue 

389 



with them? You have nothing to gain, absolutely nothing 
to gain, and you'll lose a customer. Don't make it a 
personal matter unless he insults you or something like 
that." We did tell our people that they should not argue, 
but by the same token, that they did not have to take in- 
sults from anyone; and if necessary, call me, and if I 
can't make peace and they're insulting to you, I will ask 
them to leave. And I have done that. I feel that is the 
least that I could do to maintain the morale of ray people. 
They're entitled to that backing. But I said, "By the 
same token, I want you to be extremely honest with the cus- 
tomer and tell them only things that you know. Don't tell 
them things that you don't know." 

GARDNER: One thing that I don't think we've covered ade- 
quately is the expansion of Pickwick--not the later one, 
but just taking over the saloon. 

EPSTEIN: Well, taking over the saloon is--the way we say 
that, "taking over the saloon," sounds very funny. I think 
the only reason it's ever mentioned is that some people 
have written that it's the only time in history where books 
have done better business than liquor. It's the same loca- 
tion. We were very proud that we could accomplish that 
trick. The original shop, as you know, was only twenty-six 
feet wide, and as we grew and started developing our stock 
of new books, we had to force our old books upstairs and 
our remainders upstairs. And the new-book business was 

390 



was growing. We were just totally running out of room. 
Well, next door, the forty-foot building to the west of 
us, the corner, was being operated as a saloon, as a 
bar, and a portion of it was a little tiny restaurant. 
And the landlord was having a hard time with the tenants, 
and the tenants were having a hard time because the bar 
was being constantly raided and had a very bad reputation 
for the type of clientele it handled. So the bar finally 
moved out. The landlord came to us and told us that we 
should buy it. Well, we would have loved to have had it, 
but there was a matter of money. Finally we worked out 
a deal where we could give him enough money to satisfy 
the down payment, and we broke through the thing and 
created the larger store. It was a two-story building, 
and above that were apartments. Later, we took over the 
apartments for offices. 

That allowed us to almost double our merchandise in- 
ventory and create a better mix. We then went into the 
paperback business in a real way. We built what was then 
the largest paperback department in the city. And we had 
to learn how to sell paperbacks. But the involvement was- 
it was a real estate transaction which turned out very 
fortuitously for us. 

It caused a great deal of troxible during the re- 
modeling period. The city gave us a lot of trouble. It 
was an old building and, of course, not up to modern 

391 



building standards. And if you recollect, several earth- 
quakes have happened since that building was built. And 
after each earthquake the building standards become more 
strict in certain areas of construction. Well, we had to 
have an entry between the two buildings. And we had a 
heck of a time trying to get the approval of the building 
department because the building was not concrete and steel. 
The foundation was concrete, but then it was brick up above 
that. Well, we finally worked out a deal with the city 
where [within] that opening between the two stores, which 
was much smaller than we wanted, we had to practically 
build a separate little construction piece, a separate 
little building, you might call it, in that shape. All 
around that is concrete and steel. [tape stopped] That 
is an archway built of concrete and steel which will 
support the building. It's much stronger than the orig- 
inal building. We tore out a cement foundation for that 
building which was about four feet deep, solid cement. 
We had to tear out two foundations of two buildings. 
And one of them, the older building--we had a devil of 
a time getting it out. Anyway, we had to tear out in 
some areas four feet deep of concrete, heavy concrete. 
The corner building wasn't as well constructed — about 
three feet. And put in a four- foot deep concrete and 
steel foundation. And I'll tell you, concrete and lots 
and lots of steel to help support the upper floor of 

392 



the building. They explained to us the steel prevents 
lateral stress. Concrete does not resist lateral stress. 
Now, in case you ever build a building, you'll remember 
that. [laughter] 

It was an eventful occasion in the sense that it 
was something that had never been done — a bookstore 
puishing out a bar. And on the boulevard, of course, 
it meant that we would have a great big sign. And it 
was greeted with a great deal of delight by our customers 
when they found that they could have more room to look at 
books and more books to look at. You know, book people-- 
if you had a building three times that big, they would 
still look at most of the books in that store. Some peo- 
ple will go from one section to the other, and you'll be 
amazed what they'll come up with, and they sometimes are 
amazed. 



393 



TAPE NUMBER: IX, SIDE ONE 
JULY 2, 1974 

GARDNER: Now, you have in front of you once again the 
list of the bookstores that you compiled from the tele- 
phone directory. If you'd like to run through a few and 
comment on them. . . . 

EPSTEIN: As I told you, I made a rather sketchy rundown 
of the phone books at the phone company for that period 
in order to refresh my memory about some of the people 
whom I knew throughout the years. Now, we covered up 
through about 1940, and I see here in my notes for 1941 
the Beverly Hills Book and Record Shop at 350 North 
Beverly Drive. I remember that shop very well because 
I used to drop in there, and I still know the people who 
used to run it. Bill Smith, who later on went into the 
book business in Carmel Valley up in California, had a 
nice store there--which was a curious store in that they 
sold books and cakes. His wife was an excellent baker; 
so she would bake special cakes for people, and he would 
sell the books. And his brother-in-law, Joe Mittenthal — 
Joe Mittenthal still sells books, but he's now a publisher's 
representative. He represents Crown and Scribner's and 
several other publishers in the areas outside of Los Angeles, 
practically in the six, seven, or eight western states. 
They were good book people, and they were very nice people. 

394 



Curiously enough, Bill Smith's father was a very good 
customer of mine; he used to collect a lot of books. 
And I think the father made some money in the lumber 
business, as I recollect him telling me. He probably 
put up the money for the first venture, because it was 
immediately following the Depression, and they were both 
of them young, and I'm positive they never had any money. 

At any rate, they lasted there, oh, about two, three 
years, and they just didn't quite make it. And I believe 
that it was [Walter] Martindale who bought their store 
because he didn't want any competition too close to him. 
And then he gave up the store. And I believe it's the 
same store that later was taken over for a bookstore by 
Brentano's when they entered the territory. They had a 
store on Seventh Street and then one in Beverly Hills. 
They eventually gave it up because they couldn't transfer 
the image of Brentano's to the Los Angeles area. By that 
time, the image of Brentano's had been greatly tarnished, 
because during the Depression they lost a lot of their 
stores and it was not the store that people had been 
accustomed to seeing, a Brentano's store as of before the 
Depression, "all the world's books" and so forth. That's 
the history of that store. 

And I notice in my notes that I have Fredrick Dahlstrom 
on 710 West Sixth Street. Fredrick Dahlstrom later com- 
bined with someone else and became the Bookman's Shop. But 

395 



I can't recollect the name of the man he combined with. 
At any rate, it was a store that didn't last very long. 
[bell rings; tape stopped] Then there was Everybody's 
Bookshop. It started about a block and a half from my 
West Eighth Street store. The chap's name was [Saul] 
Elstein — I'm trying to think of what his first name was — 
a very nice old man. The name of Everybody's Bookshop is 
still going on, and the grandson [Steve] is now running 
it on West Sixth Street in downtown Los Angeles. A great 
deal of the business is secondhand magazines. I don't 
think the original Mr. Elstein' s son [Herbert] developed 
it in the right direction. The young man who's running 
it now, I don't know how well he's doing, but from my 
point of view I don't think he's doing that well. And 
Martindale was already in business, of course, on Santa 
Monica Boulevard. 

GARDNER: Which Martindale is that? 

EPSTEIN: Walter. Of course, he was in business for many 
years before 1941. But he got into the book business in a 
curious way. I may have told you earlier that I had met 
the whole Martindale family, the three sons and the father. 
They were originally in the cigar and magazine business. 
They had cigar stands and magazines. They had a store on 
West Sixth Street when I opened my first shop in Los Angeles 
on West Sixth Street. I was two or three doors away from 
their cigar stand and magazine shop, and at that time I 

396 



met them all. 

Walter broke away from his father's business, one 
of the first of the three. They eventually all broke 
away. Walter broke away and he started a place on Santa 
Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. But it was also cigars 
and magazines. Next door to him was an older woman who 
was running a circulating library. It was a tiny place, 
and she was getting tired of it and, I don't imagine, made 
very much money at it. She tried to sell it and couldn't 
find any buyers for it. So she told Walter to take it 
and pay her off whatever little he could afford out of 
the circulating library business as he made it. That's 
how he got it. And then he developed it from that. He 
gave up the circulating library and went into the regular 
book business. And gradually, along with his magazines, 
he established quite a big business. You're aware that 
Walter has already sold his business, his four stores now, 
to Doubleday. 
GARDNER: Yes. 

EPSTEIN: That just recently happened; it's been verified. 
I understand they're already beginning to tear out and 
replace. 

GARDNER: I've heard that. I don't know. Before you go 
on to the next one, maybe you can give a little bit of the 
Martindale family history as it developed, because I under- 
stand it's a curious one — a Gothic one; put it that way. 

397 



EPSTEIN: I can't speak for it as really family history, 
only as they relate to the book business. I can't cornment 
on their character. They were much rougher people than 
most booksellers were at the time. Bill Martindale, in 
Santa Monica, runs a store. He runs a pretty fair store. 
It's not a literary store in a sense. He himself never 
professed to be a bookman, but he has people whom he has 
confidence in and [who] run a pretty fair sort of busi- 
ness. There was another brother — let's see, was it Dick? — 
I think Dick. There was Bill, Dick, Walter. At any rate, 
there was another brother who later went into the book 
business. He had a bookstore on Wilshire Boulevard, not 
too far from La Brea, on the south side of the street. It 
was also magazines and books and circulating library. He 
tried to follow the pattern he knew. He knew magazines 
best because he was born and raised in it. Then they 
added books. But he sold out and moved up to a place 
called Paradise, California. He moved up to Paradise, 
California, and I understand he's still running a small 
bookstore there. This one that moved up north had an 
alcoholic problem. In that way he was an unfortunate per- 
son. The father was a rough sort of a person. The mother 
is still living [since dead] , is very old, and I understand 
she just moved into a rest home or something such as that. 

But the family never got along well together. The 
brothers had quarrels with each other, and the wives of 

398 



the brothers, for one reason or another, never got along. 
But Walter and his wife were the most successful ones. 
I think Virginia had an awful lot to do with it. I think 
she's a very level-headed woman, very practical, and has 
a good business head on her. Somewhere along the line 
Walter and Virginia made a lot of money. It could not 
have been in books. It may have to do with some fortunate 
investments, because Walter flies his own plane still. At 
one time he had two planes. He had a home in Malibu plus 
his home in Beverly Hills at a time when most booksellers 
were barely making a decent living — including myself, who 
was supposed to be one of the kingpins; v/e were living 
very modestly. We had no money for airplanes--that ' s for 
sure. And that's about the size of it. 

People working for Walter were always unhappy. And 
I'm not saying this in any derogatory sense to Walter. He 
always believed that if you came to work for him, you 
should work just as hard as he does. And of course some 
people just don't work as hard as others. Otherwise they 
might not be clerks in the bookstore — or a clerk anywhere 
else. Usually people who work very, very hard and in- 
telligently wind up doing something different from just 
selling books for somebody else. Of course, I always had 
that tendency, too--I always had that belief, too--but per- 
haps I curbed my style a little more than his, although a 
great many of the people working for me told me that I was 

399 



a driver, and I was. But perhaps I used a little bit 
more velvet on my glove. [laughter] 

But on the whole Walter's a very decent person. He 
has certain ideals, and he lives up to them 100 percent. 
If he thinks a thing is wrong, he just won't do it. If 
a thing is right, he insists on it being done. Maybe 
there's not enough leeway between white and black in his 
character. But Virginia's a much more practical person — 
she, too, very hardheaded. There were other family prob- 
lems in the family — and most families have problems of 
which I'm aware--but I don't think it should appear in 
anything like this. 

GARDNER: Okay. Then you can continue down the list. 
EPSTEIN: There's a chap, just for the record, by the 
name of O.C. Nielsen, who had a magazine service at 7064 
Hollywood Boulevard. He had mostly magazines and did 
some research work for libraries. He also had books. He 
and I, although we're theoretically competitors, got along 
beautifully. He sold out his business and retired to some 
part-time business and was very happy with it. He never 
had any great ambition to make a lot of money. 

Then of course we spoke about Bennett and Marshall, 
They appeared on the scene as proprietors in 1942, as a 
definite address. They had been working out of their home, 
I think, for a little while before that. They built a nice 
store — had a rough time, as most beginners did in that period, 

400 



They gradually built up a very decent business. 

Then there was quite a famous shop in Pasadena, the 
Brown shop. It was being run by Lloyd Severe. Of course, 
Pasadena's book business, you know, was dominated by 
Vroman ' s . Lloyd Severe at one time, I think, worked for 
Vroman's.' Oh, no. Brown, Mr. [Herbert F.] Brown, at one 
time worked for Vroman's. And Mr. Vroman frankly told 
him that he ought to open a shop of his own. If he was 
going to have a competitor, he'd rather have a fellow 
like Brown than maybe some other upstart coming in who 
didn't know anything about the book business. So Brown 
opened a shop at 190 East Colorado Street. That's where 
I first knew them. They may have had another location of 
which I'm not aware. And Lloyd Severe--in 1942, Lloyd 
Severe was already running the book department of Brown's. 
Brown's went into the stationery business also and de- 
veloped a pretty fair business in commercial stationery. 
But they never had the success that Vroman's did. Vroman's 
cover the area like a blanket. And, of course, Pasadena 
was a very social, "in" city. And if you were in, you 
were in; if you were out, you weren't quite in. And that's 
the position Brown's occupied to Vroman's. It wasn't till 
later years that the scene started changing, and the mixture 
of people in Pasadena changed so radically that I think if 
it was any other store besides Vroman's, they might not 
have been doing so well. But I think Vroman's still carries 

401 



a great deal of weight, and they run an excellent shop. 
They're doing quite well. Now, Lloyd Severe, who was in 
the book business about fifty years, was recently honored 
by the Masquers. Unfortunately, we had another family 
affair that we just couldn't possibly skip on the same 
evening. I would have loved to have been there. We 
sent him a letter about it telling him. Later, we were 
in touch with him, and they said they appreciate the fact 
that we did send the letter and contributed something for 
him. He did a great deal of work for the Southern Cali- 
fornia Booksellers Association over the years. He was 
the kind of a guy that could tie a lot of ends together. 
And he also worked on the "Cavalcade of Books" TV program. 
He was an assistant to Jack Case. After he left the book 
business, he worked with Jack Case for a number of years, 
helping him to run that program, the "Cavalcade of Books." 
Thoroughly dedicated to books, and a very fine character. 
His wife, Gladys, too, was right there with him all the 
time. But he never owned any portion of the business, un- 
fortunately, and I don't know that Mr. Brown ever gave 
him too much salary. He's far from destitute. He's liv- 
ing happily; there's no lack of a livelihood. But for all 
the years he spent in the business, he came out of it with 
not too much. 

GARDNER: What was his background? Where was he before 
Brown' s? 

402 



EPSTEIN: Well, he came out of Iowa. He boasted about 
the fact. And I think Brown came out of Iowa. You know, 
Iowa provided a great deal of the immigrants in the early 
days for all of Southern California, especially Long Beach 
and that area there. 

There is one kind of a bookstore that I would like to 
mention as a kind of a thing a person with a will can do 
if they dedicate themselves to it, and that was the Jewish- 
American Bookshop. That appeared on the scene on South 
Fairfax in 1942. But the story of that bookshop goes back 
much further. I don't know if I mentioned it before. 
GARDNER: You mentioned it in a different context, not as 
called the Jewish-American bookstores. 

EPSTEIN: Yes, as Mrs. Blatt's. That to me was always a 
very fine example of a person's dedication to an idea of 
trying to fill a need of something that she felt was there. 
And she was absolutely right. She succeeded very well for 
a great many years in the Jewish-American Bookshop on Fairfax, 
was doing rather well; but of course later the mother be- 
came sick and the daughter was running it by herself. I 
understand now that it's been closed, I think since we 
started our talks. And Miss Lucille Blatt — the daughter 
never married — is now working for Harelick and Roth, which 
is a Jewish bookstore that's a very up-and-coming operation. 
GARDNER: Where is that? Also on Fairfax? 
EPSTEIN: That's on La Cienega opposite Temple Beth Am, just 

403 



below Olympic. That shop is doing rather well. 

In 1942 Ver Brugge Books — not Zeitlin-Ver Brugge — 
Ver Brugge Books is listed as having an address at 1806 
West Seventh Street. Now, that was a separate business 
temporarily from Zeitlin-Ver Brugge. You wouldn't re- 
collect this because you're too young: 1806 West Seventh 
was the site of the Otis Art Institute. In back of the 
Otis Art Institute was a large old-fashioned carriage 
house, stables or carriage house. Jake rented that and 
used the bottom for sales, and an upper balcony--! don't 
think Jake fixed up those rooms, but there were rooms. 
Now, whether they were originally constructed when the 
building was constructed or later, maybe those rooms were 
constructed originally for the people who worked the 
horses and the carriages. But at any rate, they had that 
place there, and they operated from there for many years. 
Now, I don't recollect exactly what Josephine Ver Brugge 
was doing which was separate from Jake. I think she was 
doing periodicals, maybe, because they later came into the 
periodicals business. But at any rate, that was that big 
barn back of the Otis Art Institute. 

I remember one time Jake and I--he had access to some 
duplicates from the UC Library at Berkeley. They had a 
tremendous number of books stored under the stadium at 
Berkeley. Jake had very little money. I had a trifle 
more than a little, so he came to me and said, "Why don't 

404 



we go up there, buy the stuff?" He'll take the periodicals, 
and I'll take the books — which we did. And we got several 
loads, great big truckload of stuff. Then, of course, 
came the question of what is a periodical and what is 
a book. Is a book in series a periodical if it's an 
actual book coming out intermittently without any def- 
inite publication day? I mean, it's a serial if it comes 
in series. Some things are published independently--it ' s 
called a certain kind of a series, but it may be one book 
in five years, or there may be three books in one year. So 
we had to battle that out amongst ourselves. We finally 
came to a compromise on that. I advanced all the money, 
and Jake was supposed to pay me out as he sold out of 
the periodicals. Well, the thing dragged on for years. 
Finally I think I got all my money out of it. Jake thinks 
I got a little more than my money out of it. We still 
argue about it sometimes when we get together. But it 
was an excellent deal for both of us. There were a lot of 
things in there which I wish I had kept, because some of 
those paperbound things later became very scarce because 
the editions were small. But that was the way it was done 
in those days. 

Now, coming into '43, Holmes had now become a little 
less active. He still had several stores around, but I 
think his years were beginning to get to him. And not 
only his years--his personality was beginning to be affected, 
apparently. 

405 



There was a little shop opened in the Farmer's 
Market at that period of time which was run by a woman 
by the name of Deighton, Lillian Deighton. Now, the 
one reason I mention her is not because she became a 
very successful bookwoman, although she ran a small 
bookshop, like all things in the Farmer's Market, on a 
very small scale. She sold cards and little gifts and 
a smallish selection of books. But the reason I mention 
her is she is the woman who did all of the research for 
Gone with the Wind . She was working for a studio--Selznick . 
She used to come into Eighth Street and bought a lot of 
books from me. I got an idea of the type of things she 
needed and wanted, and I made a special effort to get them 
for her. And it was a worthwhile thing because she had 
plenty of money to spend and we could get the things she 
needed. She bought them, and always paid a fair price, 
and never gave us any problems about offering us less than 
what we asked. And she was always very thankful that we 
did find things for her. Then when we moved to Hollywood, 
this relationship continued for many years. Finally 
Selznick gave up the studio, and she was out of a job. 
So she came and talked to me, and she said, "I'd like to 
open a little bookshop." So I said, "Well, you have more 
background and knowledge of books than most anybody in the 
book business at the time they started, and there's no 
reason, if you have a few hundred dollars, that you can't 



406 



gradually build it up." She told me about the place in 
the Farmer's Market, and I said, "Well, you get a lot of 
traffic." And so she did, and she made a living at it 
for quite a while. And then she got tired and gave it 
up. But she was the one that did all the research for 
the Gone with the Wind picture — apparently did an excel- 
lent job. She had a feel for what she needed. She knew 
what she needed and apparently found a great many of the 
things she needed because the success of the picture was 
helped by all of the various sets and art work that went 
into it. And she was the one that had to provide all the 
books and background material for it. 

At that time, Moby Dick moved out of the downtown area. 
Strictly for the record, there was another bookstore that 
opened to fill a need, and that was in the Jewish section 
of Boyle Heights at 2212 Brooklyn Avenue — Solomon's Hebrew 
and English Bookstore. Now, to this day there's a Solomon's 
Bookstore on Fairfax. It's still in business. The old 
gentleman, Solomon, was a very good friend of my family 
when they were in business in Boyle Heights on Brooklyn 
Avenue. The older of the descendants still remember my 
parents. Once in a while when I'm around there shopping 
for delicatessen or need something, I'll drop in. Or 
around the holiday season I will need some special kind 
of candy or toys for the children, and I drop in and say 
hello. But they're still operating. They've got almost 

407 



everything now, from the tallesin , which means the prayer 
shawl, and the phylacteries, which you wear around your 
head and your arms. And they go in more for Orthodox 
things, that the Orthodox use. They all speak Hebrew in 
there. The children were all well educated. I don't 
know how they live on that one store--two or maybe three 
families. I don't know. Maybe part of them have other 
jobs, too. But they always seem to be around. They've 
been in that business for all these many, many years. You 
can buy Passover wine there, and artifacts from Israel, and 
Jewish magazines. But they're gradually shifting over to 
things that are non-Orthodox. They had schoolbooks for 
the Orthodox and for the teachers. But now I think a 
lot of that business is going away because the children 
are being given books, and I suppose the teachers are 
given supplies. They probably buy direct from the pub- 
lishers. But they seem to be doing a thriving business 
with other types of things. That's an outgrowth of some- 
thing from Boyle Heights. I'm always trying to sell the 
story of Boyle Heights. [laughter] A great many interest- 
ing, capable, and very successful people came out of Boyle 
Heights around that period. I think I mentioned a few of 
them not too far back. 

Then in 1944, skipping very quickly — I have a note 
that Bertha G. Blatt was the name of the mother of the 
Jewish-American Bookstore, the mother who started it. 

408 



Lucille was the daughter's name. She gave up the shop and 
now works for Harelick and Roth. There was an outfit called 
Bookazine started up on Spring Street run by a chap by the 
name of Harry Dale. He was a flamboyant type of person — 
big talker but his checks bounced. I'll say that he meant 
well, and he had a lot of family problems. His father was 
supposed to be in the business before him, and the father 
developed cancer and was a source of great expense for a 
number of years. He just clung onto life. Hospitaliza- 
tion and medication. He did take care of his father in 
that respect. It was touch and go. But his big break 
came eventually--! think I told you, I mentioned earlier-- 
when Mr. Holmes sold him the balance of his stock, for 
something like $8,000, after he turned down an offer from 
Pickwick; or rather he was asking Pickwick for something 
like close to $30,000 and was too prideful to sell to the 
Pickwick because he was the kingpin and I was the young man 
just starting in. And another thing, Stackhouse had worked 
for him, and he just couldn't stand the idea of selling out 
to a store where his former employee was now manager. So 
he took a terrific loss to satisfy his pride. But by that 
time his mind was almost all gone. 

That made Harry Dale into a big operator. Then he 
started a bookstore on Hill Street. Then he went into 
the wholesale record business. And that v^^^as just his big 
thing, because he really went out and — sort of a rack jobber 

409 



operation. He could really go out in a big way. But 
eventually he went the way of all people who operate in 
that order. By the time he passed away, his wife in- 
herited very little. There's a place called the Bookazine, 
and that was Harry Dale's. 

There's a place called the Argosy Bookshop on 5505 
Hollywood Boulevard. That, too, didn't last very long. 
It was run by a musician. (I'm trying to think of his 
name. Somewhere in the back of my head the name exists-- 
Loos or Roos or something like that.) I believe he was a 
flutist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A very nice 
man. It was one of those things to run as a fun thing. 
He and I got along very well. We did quite a bit of busi- 
ness together over a period of years. He would buy from 
me; I'd buy from him. When I was in the old-book business, 
I bought a great deal from other dealers. I made it a 
point to visit them, because they would give me a discount. 
Sometimes we would trade for things they needed, for things 
that they had in stock, and they would come to us. 

That year, also, Brentano ' s opened at 611 West Seventh; 
611, if you know your downto\im numbers, is directly opposite 
Robinson's. They rented a store there. Karl Placht, who 
had at one time run a bookstore in New York, supposed to 
be a very fine bookman, came out here and tried to run a 
Brentano-type bookstore out here, and it failed dismally. 
In the first place, they didn't know the approach, the 

410 



type of people they had to deal with, and they didn't 
know how to stock a store properly for a western market. 
And Brentano ' s had an idea--and this is no criticism of 
Karl, because a lot of policies he had to work under were 
not his. They were given to him--directives. They just 
couldn't figure out the type of book V'^hich Los Angeles 
needs. They would send him all kinds of things that he 
didn't need, and overloaded him with merchandise that he 
couldn't use. In addition to that, he had to scramble 
on his own for the things he was getting called for. But 
Karl was a good bookman, and he later became a representa- 
tive for several New York publishers. He became a pub- 
lisher's representative. Let's see, who did he have? 
I think he had Dutton at one time and several others, 
with whom he had done a good job. Karl Placht had been 
a president of the American Booksellers Association when 
he was in retail in New York. We became quite friendly. 
He's now retired and lives in some retirement village 
near La Jolla or in that area. I told you Brentano ' s 
also had a store in Beverly Hills. 

Joe Chevalier appears on the scene with a lending 
library at 239 North Larchmont. Now, Joe is still operat- 
ing. Of course, he no longer has a lending library. Joe's 
a very fine person, pleasant, not overly aggressive--prob- 
ably not aggressive at all in the sense that, well, he has 
a small business, he's happy with it, he has no family to 

411 



raise, he has a v/ife and they seem to get along very 
nicely with what they do. He, too, at one time was a 
president of the Southern California Booksellers Associa- 
tion. Incidentally, in speaking of Lloyd Severe, I hope 
I mentioned that he had been a president of the Southern 
California Booksellers Association. As a matter of fact, 
I think he had several terms. 
GARDNER: \Vhat was Chevalier's background? 
EPSTEIN: Well, I don't know too much about his back- 
ground other than he appeared and there he was. A lot 
of the people, I know something about their background 
before books, but a lot of them I just don't. 

Now, I mentioned to you the Hollywood Bookstore, 
which was directly across the street from the Pickwick, 
or almost directly--slightly west. By that time it was 
owned by a person by the name of Allan Weatherby. Allan 
was a very educated guy — Harvard man, I think — and an 
awful businessman. And he was having a few psychological 
problems of one kind or another. He eventually had to sell 
the business or lost the business. And the name was bought 
out by someone else. But now the name of Hollywood Book- 
store is almost meaningless, because there are about four 
or five stores with the first name — Hollywood Bookland and 
Hollywood Book Service and Hollywood this, that, and the 
other. But at that time there was only the one Hollywood 
Bookstore. In saying that the name is meaningless, I don't 

412 



mean to deprecate the stores that are using the name 
similar to it, but it has no relation to the type of 
thing that the Hollywood Bookstore was. As a matter 
of fact, most of them are secondhand bookstores, whereas 
the Hollywood Bookstore at one time was the bookstore in 
Hollywood. 

Curiously — sometimes it surprises me no end, in 
looking back — with all these well-established stores, 
Pickwick was able to prosper, and they all went down. 
Some people say that my competition was too much for them. 
But I think in each case I can refute that by saying that 
almost in each case something happened to the management. 
They lost their will, or they lost their mind, [laughter] 
or they lost their incentive, or they inherited a lot of 
money, or they sold out to somebody who didn't know the 
business. And nobody's ever accused me of actually try- 
ing to put a competitor out of business. We never even 
had the thought. But we worked very hard. We did work 
very hard, and I know we worked harder than a lot of our 
competitors. Allan Weatherby was hardly ever at his busi- 
ness. The only time he showed up was when he needed some 
money, and then he'd go and take it out of the cash register 
and not even tell anybody about it. Stanley Rose — I already 
told you the story of poor Stanley — he did almost the 
same. Those were our major competitors at the time. In 
each case, something happened to them. I don't think it 

413 



was because we tried and forced them out of business. 
I don't think anybody's ever accused us of that. Our 
policy was strictly cooperation. 

Incidentally, I mentioned Allan Weatherby was having 
problems. Well, I understand he's since straightened out 
beautifully and now teaches at some college--Amherst or 
somewhere like that--and is getting along very nicely. 
But he was having rows with his wife, and they had a 
child. He was going through a period, I guess. 

Harry Wepplo Bookstore — I told you he was one of 
those who was arrested in the Hecate County case. Well, 
he bought out Lofland, which previously had been Lofland 
and Russell, a secondhand-book store at 32 West Sixth 
Street. He at one time worked for Miller's, across the 
street. And I told you the story of Mr. Miller, who had 
had a textbook store down near USC. Harry also worked 
for Pickwick at one time, which I think I mentioned. It 
came about in this way. He was working for Miller's, and 
we were just beginning to get started into new books. He 
was unhappy at Miller's. As I pointed out to you, I be- 
lieve, he was a very odd person, and I don't think anyone 
would be too happy working for him for any length of time. 
He heard about us going into new books, and he came in and 
asked for the job. Stackhouse and I talked to him — of 
course, we knew him well because we used to exchange things — 
and we hired him. Well, Harry in many ways lacked stability. 

414 



He wanted to do everything for everybody, no matter what 
the expense to him or to his employer. His motives were 
good, but his executions were a total loss. He wanted to 
satisfy everybody and give them the best end of everything 
out of the goodness of his heart. He was that kind of a 
guy. A person would come in, and he'd say, "Well, I can't 
afford this." And he'd say, "Well, take it." He didn't 
care if it belonged to him or belonged to his boss, 
[laughter] Well, you can stand a little bit of that, 
but you can't stand too much of it. And his buying was 
the same way. He would buy huge quantities. He started 
buying for us. We didn't know any better. We thought 
that if he bought ten, maybe that's a good buy. But 
[with] some things, ten is a huge amount; and other 
things, a hundred is a small amount~-depending on the 
title. At any rate, I took our whole family to Washington 
[D.C.] to visit Ann's people. (She's, of course, a native 
of Washington.) And when we got back, Stackhouse told me 
that Harry had bought all the remainder of the books of 
Houghton-Mifflin's warehouse in San Francisco. Houghton- 
Mifflin was giving up the San Francisco warehouse and con- 
solidating all their things into the home place at Boston. 
And he told me the amount of money involved, and he showed 
me the list of what it was. Well, it was the worst batch 
of material you ever did see — broken sets, odd volumes of 
sets, two volumes, two and three, out of a five-volume 

415 



set, and all the things that they couldn't possibly 
sell which they left in their warehouse and they had 
to dump it somewhere. The salesman--the sheriff of 
Petaluma, they called him. [phone rings; tape stopped] 
The Houghton-Mifflin salesman was Harrison Leusler, a 
very fine man. At any rate, I come back to this situa- 
tion. It involved a huge sum, something like $3,500. 
And actually, we did not have that much money. Any 
money coming in was immediately spent for more books. 
You can tie up an awful lot of money very quickly in the 
new-book business. And that's what we were doing, be- 
cause our business was doing all right. Well, Harry had 
bought all these books. Knowing this, I immediately called 
Harrison Leusler and I said, "Look, Harrison, I can't 
accept those books. Don't ship them. If you ship them, 
I'll turn them away. I won't accept them." And then I 
told him, "You had no business selling those books with- 
out getting a confirmation. Harry is entitled to buy a 
line from you, a season's books, but he has no authority 
to buy a whole warehouse full of books. In the first 
place, that's Stackhouse ' s job because those are the re- 
mainders. They're not classified as new books." Well, at 
any rate, Harrison said, "Okay, Louis, don't. ..." Well, 
Harrison's a very hard salesman. He ' s a nice person, but 
he had a hard sell. He tried to convince me that it was 
a good buy, but I insisted that he not ship them. We 



416 



finally compromised on a deal of about ten cents a book, 
and we came out all right on it. By that time we had had 
enough of Wepplo. How he got into the deal for Lofland's 
store I don't know, as Harry could never save a dime. He 
must have had a backer. Who it was I don't know. But 
that didn't last too long, and he opened the little shop 
in the Farmer's Market, which he ran for several years, 
and finally retired. I haven't seen him in years. 



417 



TAPE NUMBER: IX, SIDE TWO 
JULY 15, 1974 

GARDNER: We left off last time in the midst of your 
monumental list of the booksellers. I thought we'd try- 
to finish that. 

EPSTEIN: We were discussing some of the research I have 
done from memory and actually at the phone company. About 
the only way I could think of to r\in down some of the older 
booksellers and get some chronological order is by going 
through the yellow directories of the phone company, which 
I did on several occasions, until I got tired. At any 
rate, I've still got quite a number left. In 1945, 
Eugene Bechtold: he's still operating in the social 
sciences. At that time he was at 257 South Spring Street. 
He worked for Pickwick for a while, but he was overmeticu- 
lous. He was a wonderful person--as a person he's great — 
but to run a profit-making business, we just couldn't give 
him enough time to do the work and classification the way 
he liked to do it. And if he was interested in something, 
he had to stop and read all about it; and if he found 
someone with the same interest as he, why, that was the 
end of the day because they would spend the rest of the 
day talking. This is by no means a criticism of the man 
but a criticism of how a good person can not fit into a 
certain type of business. But he's very knowledgeable 

418 



and is doing a good job in the business he's in. He 
works for himself and devotes all the time he feels is 
necessary to classifying his own books of the particular 
product. 

GARDNER: When I was looking through the notes on the 
antiquarians, at that point he was on his own. 
EPSTEIN: Yes, 1945 he was on his own. 
GARDNER: At that point he was doing mail order. 
EPSTEIN: Right. He was doing a mail order business, 
sort of, by catalog or whatever. But he had worked for 
me at one time. And we're still good friends. Whenever 
we meet, we have great respect for each other. 

There was a Lincoln Bookshop, which had several ad- 
dresses. The last one they had, I think, was on Highland 
Avenue north of Hollywood. Now, exactly where they were 
in 194 5 I don't remember. They may have been on Highland 
near Hollywood. It was a leftist bookstore, extreme left. 
They took, of course, a lot of punishment in those days 
from the rightist groups and the headhunters. 
GARDNER: Who ran it? Do you recall? 

EPSTEIN: I don't remember their names now, unfortunately. 
Mary Gordon, who at one time worked for us, worked there. 
She was a rabid leftist, one of the vociferous ones. But 
who actually ran the shop at the time, I don't know. They 
were not too far away from us, but we had no particular 



419 



contact except that Mary would come in, having worked 
for us, to visit and tell us a few things and leave us 
some literature. [laughter] 

Harry Wepplo, I've mentioned before as being in the 
Hecate County case; he opened in the Farmer's Market. He 
had one of the small stores facing Fairfax Boulevard. He 
lasted until just a few years ago. I gave you a good 
background on him. 

There was a little tiny store called the Boulevard 
Book and Art Shop in the same block as Pickwick was, and 
it was run by a chap — well, it was run by a couple; the 
name is [Milton and Hazel B.] Goodhand. And they had been 
in vaudeville and involved in the theater, that type of 
background. They had a little circulating library still 
and handled a few other odds and ends. They're very nice 
people. Later, Mr. Goodhand went to work for Eddie Gilbert. 
They're both gone now. He was with Eddie for quite some 
time. 

The Abbey Bookshop, which I mentioned earlier, down- 
town on West Sixth Street, about this period of 1946 changed 
hands and was then owned by a chap by the name of William 
Weiss, who had been a musician. And he bought this store 
to run. He wanted to get out of the business of being a 
musician, but I don't think he ever quite made the change 
because the store never was that profitable for him to 
give up his musical career. He played with various studios 

420 



and other orchestras. A nice man, but he didn't last 
long in the trade. I think he later sold it out to 
Gideon Herman. Remember, I tried to think of Gideon's 
name when I talked about the Abbey before? It's Gideon 
Berman, an Israeli. 

Then Larson came into the picture, [John R. ] Larson's 
Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard just west of VJestern on 
the south side of the street. Very peculiar man, and he 
had a very peculiar wife. I guess one begats the other. 
[laughter] He was in magazines and then went into meta- 
physical books quite heavily, and then in addition, as 
I say, research magazines of various kinds, runs of maga- 
zines. And he built up a fairly substantial business in 
those things that he was interested in. But I would not 
consider him a true bookman in the sense that he had an 
overall picture of the book business. That has always 
been the measurement amongst true bookmen. He was accused 
of being anti-Semitic, but I have personally never noticed 
it. I visited the shop and I bought things from him, and 
I saw no signs of it. But I was told by others that he 
really was. He died at rather an early age, and his wife 
ran the business. They were both cat connoisseurs. They 
had no children, so their living was the bookstore and the 
cats. That was the total interest of their lives. She 
carried on after his death for quite a few years, and it 
wasn't until maybe two or three years before I sold out 

421 



that she actually gave up the business. Or it may have 
been the year after I sold out, maybe 1967 or '68. (You 
see, without being in the business now, time is beginning 
to telescope. I never had a good memory for dates. I 
have an impressionistic mind, not an accurate one.) She 
used to visit us quite often. She paid me a great deal 
of respect. She always sought my advice on the things 
that she wanted to do. She always felt that I knew every- 
thing, which, of course, is an illusion which I try to 
dissuade people from. [laughter] But the fact that we 
were more or less successful, and having been in all the 
different ends of the book business, gave people the idea 
that we were knowledgeable of everything. I will admit, 
we had a lot of experiences in everything. 

There was--just for the record, not really an important 
bookshop in the sense that they were a major kind of book- 
store--a chap by the name of Rabalette, in downtown on Spring 
Street. He handled back numbers of magazines and some 
popular books in downtown Spring Street. They were in 
business for quite a while, but they were out of the swim 
of the regular book business. They dealt with an entirely 
different clientele from what other bookstores dealt with — 
the Spring Street crowd and the horse-racing crowd and the 
gamblers downtown, also the skid row people. 

As I mentioned before, in 1946 Brentano's opened a 
store on Seventh Street, in the same block as Robinson's, 

422 



on the north side of the street. And they tried their 
darnedest to project their name into this community. But 
they didn't have the tools, in the sense that they never 
carried the kind of stock that California bookstores did. 
Now, we've talked about Pickwick, the tremendous stocks 
that we carried. But there were other stores in the city 
that carried major stocks of books--Martindale ' s and 
Fowler Brothers, then; in Pasadena, Vroman ' s . I think 
all of them exceeded in variety most of the main book- 
stores in New York. And of course, Brentano ' s had gone 
through the Depression, and they weren't the same people 
anymore. So they tried to chain out into California, but 
they were totally unsuccessful. They didn't last too long. 
Well, they lasted about three, four years, until they found 
that they just couldn't make it being managed from New York, 
competing with people who had managers on the spot. 
GARDNER: Why is there that difference between the western 
and eastern stores? 

EPSTEIN: In the New York area at that time, I think the 
prime store was Scribner's. I think Brentano 's had gone 
down. Still, Scribner's would never carry the variety of 
stock that, say, Pickwick did. We carried technical books; 
we carried metaphysical books. Scribner's wouldn't touch 
either. 

GARDNER: Why not? 
EPSTEIN: There's no accounting for it, except that they 

423 



created an image of themselves — or over the years an image 
was created for them. Scribner's was a very literary store, 
supposedly, and catered to the very highest income group, 
perhaps, in New York City. They tried to establish the 
image. The image was created for them, and they became 
exclusive to certain types of books. With the population 
they had in New York, they could well afford to do that, 
whereas I think in our community, especially the Pickwick — 
and here I go again, speaking about the Pickwick as dis- 
tinct and different from other stores--we would handle 
everything worthwhile (and, of course, a lot of things 
that weren't worthwhile). But if it was a good meta- 
physical book, I would want to stock a good metaphysical 
book. And we built up a tremendous business in metaphysical 
books. Then when we decided to go into technical books, we 
decided we'd have a good technical-book department. That, 
in conjunction with everything else we were handling — 
paperbacks and every other kind of book you could imagine, 
general trade books, of course. But we didn't want to be- 
come exclusive. We didn't want to become the elegant store. 
We definitely did not. It came up one time that the council- 
man of our district and a neighbor of ours — I spoke about 
Mr. Lamport — wanted to create the image of Hollywood, bring 
it back to very high class. I explained to him that you 
can't go home again. It's been there; you'll never bring 
it back. Besides, times are different. Those stores no 

424 



longer exist. Those fancy dress shops that we had on 
Hollywood Boulevard, which later moved — well, you couldn't 
possibly bring them back to Hollywood Boulevard. To try 
to make a Fifth Avenue out of it was just futile. I said, 
"I don't v;ant to be on Fifth Avenue. I don't want a Fifth 
Avenue store. I didn't start out with that idea in mind, 
and I'm convinced that my idea's still the best. No Fifth 
Avenue store does as well as we do. Nor do they provide 
the service to the community we do." 

That was the image that the New Yorkers had of them- 
selves. They catered to certain groups. Brentano's, of 
course, at one time were very proud of their title, "Book- 
sellers to the World," because they had a store in Paris. 
That to me was more or less ridiculous. But it made an 
excellent title. They didn't have the kind of competition 
in New York that they had here when they came out here. As 
I said, the store that came out here was no longer an image 
of the famous Brentano's store on Fifth Avenue in the twenties, 
GARDNER: Could any store provide that sort of elegant at- 
mosphere and get away with it? There's never been that 
kind of store here, has there? 

EPSTEIN: I don't know. I honestly don't know. At these 
times, I don't think they could afford all that elegance, 
although, coming back to Brentano's on Wilshire in Beverly 
Hills, they are trying to do that. I have no way of knowing 
how successful they are. I hear one kind of a story and 

425 



then I hear another. I have no figures and I have no 
certain knowledge that they are succeeding, or whether 
they are not succeeding. The parent company is not doing 
too well--Macmillan Company, which owns Brentano ' s and 
which also owns Macmillan Publishing Company. The parent 
company's not doing too well. I have reason to believe 
that they're having a difficult time. It's an extremely 
expensive location. The stock is limited to a few good 
books but not a great deal of variety of a general book- 
store. Now we'll have a similar type of competition. 
Doubleday bought out Martindale--and incidentally they've 
already taken the name "Martindale ' s" off the thing. The 
Martindale sign is down, off the building, and they're 
tearing everything apart. The whole image of Martindale ' s-- 
they're getting rid of that as quickly as possible. 
GARDNER: Well, we'll come back to that, too. But have 
you seen Walter Martindale since the transfer? 
EPSTEIN: I haven't seen Walter or spoken to him. I 
didn't want to call him up because I didn't think it was 
proper for me to call him and ask him certain things. But 
there's a good deal of talk in the trade about how the deal 
was made. If the talk is relatively true, I think he made 
a good deal for himself. Of course, Walter is a very 
shrewd chap. He'll hold out until he gets what he wants. 

Then several smaller book operations opened in the 
forties; in the middle forties there seemed to be a great 

426 



deal of activity. There was a rare-book store open in 
Beverly Hills on Santa Monica Boulevard called The Folio. 
They lasted for several years. The Paradise Book and 
Stationery Shop in Huntington Park is still in business, 
doing a fairly decent business in their own community. 
Spearman's on South Flower Street opened at that time. 
They were a Catholic-book store. They were there for 
several years, and then they retired. There was a chap 
[Diaz-Garcia] , who opened the Hispano-American Bookshop, 
Spanish books, at 827 West Sixth. And later he moved to 
another location, I think on Carondelet Street, near 
Seventh and Carondelet, near the Otis Art Institute, in 
that area, near the park. The World News Company came 
into the picture on North Cahuenga Boulevard. They 
handled some books. Bill Steinberg: he handles news- 
papers along the walls, similar to the Universal News 
on Las Palmas, just south of Hollywood Boulevard, which 
is supposed to be the largest outdoor newsstand in the 
world. Harry Dale moved to West Sixth Street at that 
time. We spoke about Harry Dale. Two young men opened 
a place called Books in Review on Wilshire Boulevard. 

One of them has since died, but the remaining partner 

* 
still operates it. It's just as you approach Wilshire 

Boulevard going north from Virgil. If Virgil ran through. 



* Harry Hill and Jack Brown. Hill died. The shop just 
changed hands (June 1975). — [L.E.] 

427 



you could go into their shops. They do a living sort of 

business, in the sense that they make a decent living. 

Now, the survivor, I suppose, is just carrying on at about 

the same rate. 

GARDNER: ^^at sort of books do they handle? 

EPSTEIN: A general stock of books, greeting cards, and a 

few other things. Coming into 1948, a chap opened up an 

office supplies, sports books, and magazines store on North 

Western Avenue. [phone rings; tape stopped] Adco--they 

were at 1120 North Western — 1120 3/4, to be exact. They 

later went into the business of sporting books, books 

about baseball, prizefighting, and all kinds of ephemera, 

historical items about that; he's been at it for quite a 

number of years now and is doing very nicely. 

GARDNER: He still does that? 

EPSTEIN: He still does that. I'm trying to think of the 

chap's name. I did know his name but I can't remember it 

now. [Goodwin Goldfaden] 

GARDNER: Where is he located? 

EPSTEIN: He's on Santa Monica Boulevard now somewhere. I 

don't know the exact address. I can look it up. There 

again is an example of a person becoming a specialist and 

doing well or medium; or like Eugene Bechtold, whom we 

spoke about, he creates a little niche in the whole spectrum, 

and from that he lives. There again, to digress a little 

bit, people ask me, "Are there opportunities in the book 

428 



business?" Why, you can start in a hole in the wall or 
in a closet in the bedroom, if that's all you have, and 
begin to specialize and study your subject. If a person 
has the inquisitiveness and a little bit of gumption to 
make a start and starve for a few months, maybe he can 
gradually, over a period of time, by constant study and 
constant research in any field imaginable, create a book 
business. And Eugene Bechtold is a living example of that, 
I don't think Eugene's ever made much more than a living. 
There's one man does that, and Adco does it on sports, 
Burch did it on nature books. I know people who buy noth- 
ing but fiction and sell to libraries. 

A chap named [n.;ucjlas] De Vorss, who had been on 
Grand Avenue. . . . What's the name of that hotel, and 
they also had an auditorium, near Grand and Ninth? 
GARDNER: Embassy? 

EPSTEIN: Embassy Auditorium, yeah. You've got a re- 
markable memory f because that was popular way before your 
time. He had a place of business in the back of one of 
the little sections of the Embassy, and then he moved to 
West Ninth Street. He built up a business of publishing 
metaphysical books. A lot of it was done for the author 
at the author's expense, and he would distribute them. If 
the author became popular, then he would become their pub- 
lisher. And he built up a very good business of it. He 
became a widower, and he employed in his office several 

429 



women. And the husband of one of the women shot him, 
killed him. There might have been an affair, but it was 
never proven that there actually was. Of course, those 
things are a little difficult to prove. The business is 
still being run now by a nephew of his, and it's moved to 
Santa Monica--De Vorss and Company. And they operate a 
pretty fair business, I think, a very profitable business. 
But that was the unfortunate ending of this man. 

There was another, more happy, incident that I would 
like to mention here about the old secondhand-book business. 
When he first moved to Grand Avenue, when he first started 
his business, he used to walk by my place. I was on Eighth 
Street at that time between Grand and Olive, and every time 
he had to go downtown, he had to pass by the store — if he 
was going towards the May Company or that area--to get to 
Broadway or Hill. One day, I went out to see some books. 
I wanted to buy the books, but the man insisted that I buy 
his bookcases also. He wouldn't sell me the books without 
his bookcases. And they were these Globe-Wernicke kind, 
which I understand now have become collectors' items — the 
ones that had a glass door that pulled up? The little glass 
door pulled up and slid to the back. Well, I was in an 
antique shop the other day looking for some books, and I 
saw those. And I made the remark that I at one time had 
about 200 little sections of those and I didn't know what 
to do with them, so I sold them for a dollar apiece. He 

430 



said, "Oh, God, we're getting. ..." He had a rack of 
five of them plus the top and the bottom, and he was ask- 
ing $100 for it. He explained to me that they had become 
very rare collectors' items. Well, to come back to Mr. 
De Vorss and the story about the man who insisted on me 
buying the bookcases, well, he had 100 or 125 sections of 
these bookcases. And I had no room for them. He had a 
very good library of books, and I just had to buy those 
bookcases. I think I paid him about twenty-five, fifty 
cents a section — which was cheap enough, I suppose, even 
for those days. But I had no room, and no way of getting 
them into the shop. Anyway, I had to buy them; I bought 
them; I got a truck to bring them in; and there they were 
on the sidewalk and me wondering how in the world I was 
going to get them into the store, where I was going to put 
them. And De Vorss walked by, and we said hello. He said, 
"Say, those are nice bookcases." I said, "Yes, they're 
very nice." He said, "How much do you want for them?" 
I said, "Can you use them all?" He said, "Yes, I can use 
them all" — because he had just started there and so forth. 
They looked very nice. I said, "Well, give me a dollar and 
a half apiece for them." He said, "Okay." So out of a 
disaster I made a handsome profit. One never knows. At 
the time I was so happy to get rid of them, if he had of- 
fered me seventy-five cents apiece, I'm sure I would have 
taken it. But that poor man came to an linfortunate end. 

431 



The Hollywood Bookstore at that time was sold by the 
creditors. They had been there, the oldest bookstore in 
Hollywood. They were a little bit diagonal to the west, 
across the street from us, about five doors from where 
Miller's is now. The building has since been torn down 
for an auto park. Allan Weatherby owned it. I may have 
mentioned Allan before. He was a Harvard graduate, ex- 
tremely knowledgeable in literature, but totally irrespon- 
sible. He had no idea where money came from. If he needed 
money, he would just go to the register and take whatever 
was there for whatever purpose--he wanted to go out and 
have a fine dinner or take a number of people drinking. At 
that time he had psychological problems of some kind or 
another. His wife was a very fine woman, and she suffered 
along with him. But they lost their business. A number of 
years later, he went back East, and we heard that he 
straightened himself out and now is a professor at some 
university on the East Coast and living very happily, which 
I'm very happy to hear. 

Sammy Reiser was listed; he opened a store at 5638 
Hollywood Boulevard. That was his final store, and while 
he was still proprietor of that, he, as I mentioned before, 
committed suicide. Larry Edmunds was operating at the old 
Reiser store. I think he had Ida Needham and Milton Luboviski 
working for him at the time. They were still on Cahuenga, i 
think . 

432 



GARDNER: They specialized in film, didn't they? 
EPSTEIN: At that time, no. At that time, they had 
a general used-book store. The Satyr Bookshop had moved 
from Vine Street to Hollywood Boulevard just east of Vine. 
They were on Vine Street next to the Brown Derby. But the 
location became too expensive for them, and the Derby 
wanted it back, so they had to move. At that time I think 
Mac Gordon, the originator, had already died. 

I think I mentioned Solomon's before. The Jewish book- 
store moved to Fairfax from Boyle Heights. That's an event, 
There was a little bookstore opened up called the Studio 
Bookstore at 1716 North Wilcox. They had both new and old 
books. We're coming now to '49. 

If you recollect, I spoke of a man by the name of 
Dave Kohn, who ran the Curio Bookshop — and the place was 
just stuffed with books, and neither he nor anyone else 
could find anything — and who had asked me how to improve 
his business. And I told him if he kept one and threw out 
two, in the proportion, he might be able to create a book- 
shop again, as it was purely a storage house. Well, he 
finally sold out to some people who renamed it The Book 
Center. It was later sold out to somebody else and moved 
to South Broadway, and it just petered out. 

There was one chap I'd like to mention. He did not 
have a bookstore. But he sold encyclopedias, which is a 
world apart from bookstores, usually a very hard sell from 

433 



door to door. The chap I want to mention, his name was 
C.U. Branch. (Now, what the initials stand for, I don't 
know. I think the first name might have been Clarence.) 
But anyway, he had his offices at 416 West Eighth Street, 
[phone rings; tape stopped] C.U. Branch was a typical 
example of a kind of bookselling that doesn't exist any- 
more, I don't think. They still have door-to-door sales- 
men who sell encyclopedias — not from door to door, neces- 
sarily, but to wealthy people, fine sets of books. In 
those days, people were proud of having a library, even 
those who were hardly literate. But if they had the money, 
they of course had to have a library full of books; and 
they'd buy these finely bound sets, and put them on the 
shelves, and enjoy them whichever way they could. Some- 
times they would read one. But a finely bound book is a 
difficult book to read in the first place. I know people 
who have finely bound sets of an author, but if they want 
to read the author, they go out and buy a copy of that 
book because they're hard to handle. 
GARDNER: You don't want to get them dirty. 

EPSTEIN: Right, because they get soiled very easily. They're 
highly polished, as a rule. At any rate, he would buy books 
from me. If we would get fine sets, he would buy them from 

me. 

We had an arrangement: he wouldn't buy them outright. 
He would take a sample of a set of books that I had, or 

434 



whatever number of sets he wanted to take out, and he 
would try to sell them. And if he sold them, he would 
buy them from me. If not, he brought me back the book — 
which was a nice arrangement, once you got to know that 
he was trustworthy. Occasionally we had to wait for our 
money because the person that he sold them to didn't give 
him a check on the spot, or whatever. But on the whole, 
we got along very well with a number of people who did 
that sort of thing. At that time, there was C.C. Leonard 
and Grady and one or two others who did that type of 
thing. 

However, the Depression came along, and the market 
for that type of book business dropped. People weren't 
buying those things, sets for $4- or $5- or $600. All 
these chaps were having a very rough time. So they started 
selling to schools and libraries. Schools had a regular 
budget, no matter how small, and they were such tough 
salesmen. Then they switched to things like the World 
Book sets, and reference sets, encyclopedias, or sets of 
standard authors not in fine bindings--cloth bindings. So 
they went ahead and created a modest living out of that. 
And a modest living was what most people had in those days. 
Some of them didn't quite succeed, and they had to do some- 
thing else. 

Then Branch later became a sales manager for an en- 
cyclopedia company. Not a major encyclopedia — it was, I 

435 



think, the Collier, which was the third-rate encyclopedia. 
And all over the years we kept in contact. VThenever he'd 
find a batch of good used books somewhere, he would call 
me and tell me about them. We became quite close friends. 
But he wound up, he got into a deal of some kind operating 
a school for GIs . After WV II, a tremendous number of 
GIs were either going to college or trade schools. And 
quite a few trade schools sprung up to teach these boys 
a craft — like watchmaking or the grinding of lenses or 
polishing stone. Any kind of a school they could think of, 
they started, and these chaps would come in with their GI 
Bill money and spend it with them. They became very success- 
ful at it until the thing petered out. But by that time, 
he had it made. 

He was a very shrewd guy. A nice person. Hard sell — 
I wouldn't want him to sell me. But with all that, that 
was his business; that was his way of doing business. Take 
that coat off, and he was a very fine person. We got along 
very well together for, oh, twenty-five, thirty years. But 
I mention that simply because the type of a business — again, 
a person begins to specialize in something. And you know, 
I don't know of any salesmen who are going around to schools 
and colleges the same way as they did. And I'll bet you 
that if a person started out today and did that same thing, 
he could probably do very well at it, because the libraries 
are more prosperous now than they were then — less prosperous 

436 



than they were five years ago, but they still have quite 
sizable budgets compared to the budgets of those days. 

Brentano's on Seventh Street combined with Gateway 
of Music. You wouldn't remember that. A chap started 
an idea of selling records the way books are sold. And 
he came into the nice Brentano's store on West Seventh 
Street, and they started this thing. They also did that 
at the Beverly Hills address. But the partnership didn't 
last long, and Brentano's went out. Gateway stayed, but 
Gateway didn't last too long either. It was an idea that 
just didn't take hold. 

There was a chap who opened the Cambridge Bookshop, 
at 5600 Hollywood Boulevard, which again didn't last long. 

Peggy Christian opened at 1071 North Western, called 
Christian's Bookstore. I think she was married at the 
time, but she ran the store herself. I walked in there 
one day — I didn't know her — and I saw this young woman, 
very attractive, in this shop that had a lot of dark 
corners in it; and I said to myself, "Something might 
happen here." I looked around; I introduced myself. She 
had heard of me, but she didn't know me. We talked. And 
I said to her, "Aren't you afraid to stay here?" "Well," 
she said, "my husband comes and stays with me in the later 
hours." But apparently the marriage broke up. She ran it 
herself. Then she later moved to Santa Monica Boulevard, 
around the corner; and finally, as you know, she's now on 

437 



La Cienega. 

M. Harelick opened a Jewish-book store at 228 West 
Fourth Street. But he did not go into the same kind of 
Jewish-book store as Solomon's. A much different plane 
in the sense that all his books were in English. He had 
a broader knowledge of Jewish books, of Jewish content, 
rather than strictly as Solomon's were textbooks for Jewish 
schools and so forth--although Harelick later carried the 
textbook type of thing. It was mostly for the Reform and 
Conservatives, which use a lot of English, more English 
and less Hebrew. Solomon was the expert on the Hebrew. 
Harelick became quite expert, and quite a fine bookman for 
Jewish religious books. And he was a very fine person. 
He later combined with a man by the name of Jack Roth, and 
it's called Harelick and Roth. They're on La Cienega op- 
posite Temple Beth Am, below Olympic. Mr. Harelick has 
since died, and Roth is operating the business using the 
same name and doing an excellent job. 

I think that people running specialized bookshops in 
some ways do a tremendous service to the community. Whereas 
Mr. Harelick one time called me and said that his problem 
was that he sold to religious groups and rabbis and teachers, 
and every one of them wanted a discount. And he was having 
a hard time making ends meet. I told him that as long as 
he gives a discount, he was going to starve and perhaps 
starve to death, in the sense that he wouldn't be able to 

438 



carry on his business; that he must be adamant and explain 
to them that there isn't that much Jev/ish-book business in 
the city, and he is providing them with a service, and he 
cannot afford to give them a discount. And stick to that 
policy. And by God, he did that--with rare exceptions, 
where they bought a great big lot of books — and his busi- 
ness improved in the sense that he was making a profit. 
And I said, "You've got to teach the people to respect 
you, because you are providing them a service that they 
can't get anywhere else in the city — or hardly anywhere 
in the country unless they want to deal by mail with a 
few stores in New York, which is very inconvenient for 
them and where they will get no discount. They'll have 
to pay postage. And you explain that to them and stick 
to it." And I said, "You might lost some customers, but 
you will gain profit on the business you do to much more 
than offset the losses you take. And those same customers 
will find they can't get the book elsewhere, and they will 
come to you, and they will pay your price." He remembered 
that, and he thanked me for the advice many times. 

We had to learn the same thing when we moved into 
Hollywood and we started selling new books. See, during 
the Depression we got in the habit of giving discounts. 
Well, you had to. I mean, people just came in, and maybe 
that's all they had. If you wanted a dollar and a half, 
and they offered you a dollar and a quarter or a dollar, 

439 



you compromised to a dollar and a quarter. Well, he was 
short of money; I v;as short of business. We did it. But 
when we came into Hollywood, we decided we just couldn't 
do it anymore, because the more people you had working, 
the bigger the business got, everyone had to trade with 
the boss because he was the only one who could give a 
discount. So the first thing we knew, Stackhouse or I 
were doing all the selling, and we didn't have any time 
for anything else. So we decided we would mark up books 
reasonably, as reasonably as we could, give absolutely no 
discounts. We never gave a discount on a new book, except 
to other dealers and occasionally to a library when they 
bought new books. Well, the people who had been accustomed 
to getting a discount or bargaining with us, we had to 
teach them that this is a totally different business we're 
in now; we just couldn't do it, and we wouldn't do it. And 
I think that was one of the great reasons that Pickwick 
stayed on an even keel all the years. Oh, we had a time 
with people. "What, Louis? I don't get a discount?" You 
know, they had been getting a discount or bargaining. "No," 
I said, "we're running a different kind of a store now. I 
can't afford to give you a discount." Because if I gave 
them a 10 percent discount, that was all the profit that I 
would make on the transaction. 

GARDNER: Let me just ask one quick question. Did Harelick 
handle all new books? 

440 



EPSTEIN: He had a few old books, as they showed up. No, 
primarily new. 



441 



TAPE NUMBER: X, SIDE ONE 
JULY 15, 1974 

EPSTEIN: To back up a little bit to '49, I notice that 
I didn't mention Cambridge Bookshop, which opened on 
5600 Hollywood Boulevard. That's about a block west of 
Western. The chap who started that, his name was [Charles] 
Salzman. He's still in business. I notice the following 
year he moved again. In the following year he moved some- 
where else. I don't have the exact address. But he's 
still in business, and he's on Melrose Avenue, not far 
from La Cienega [Canterbury Book Shop, 8344 Melrose] . He 
runs a small shop, mostly library business, specializing 
in English literature. 

The name of M.J. Royer comes up. In 194 9 he opened 
a bookshop at 465 North Robertson. Later he went into 
art books in a big way, selling to libraries almost ex- 
clusively, and built up a very handsome business. The 
interesting thing about Mel Royer — to me, that is--is 
that he was one of my very earliest customers when I 
opened on Sixth Street. At that time he was an account- 
ant. I forget the name of the firm. They used to get 
all the cans and metals from the city garbage collection 
department. In those days, you had to separate the metals 
from all the other waste. It was a very lucrative busi- 
ness for the company, and they fought the combination of 



442 



metals and all other waste products that they collected 
from the residences. They fought the idea for a good 
many years, but they finally lost. Now, of course, every- 
thing is collected together. Curiously, now there's an 
agitation, because metals are becoming scarce and whatnot, 
to recycle all these things, go back to the old system of 
having two containers, one for paper waste and other gar- 
bage and whatnot, and another one for metals — which I think 
makes sense, except that, of course, it would cost the city 
so much money to do that. They'd probably have to have two 
separate pickups. How they'll work it out, I don't know. 

Mel was considered a pretty good collector at the 
time that I started. It was curious to find him going into 
the business many years later, almost twenty years later 
from the time I started till the time he went into busi- 
ness. He is a very nice person, and he made quite a nice 
success of it. But he recently sold out his entire stock, 
which was expensive and valuable stock, to a group of 
Japanese who packed it all up and shipped it to Japan. 
And what they'll do with it, I wouldn't know — it'll prob- 
ably go into some libraries there. But the Japanese are 
beginning to buy, as you know, all art forms of any kind. 
I guess they needed some art books. 
GARDNER: What kind of a guy was Mel Royer? 
EPSTEIN: In what sense do you mean? 
GARDNER: Oh, just generally. 

443 



EPSTEIN: Oh, a very nice person, very soft-spoken, a 
straight thinker, a square businessman. When you dealt 
with Mel, you were on solid ground. What he said, well, 
you could take as gospel. You didn't have to have signed 
contracts with him. He established a nice reputation 
amongst the libraries. I'm seventy-two, you know, and I 
always considered him a good bit older than I. I imagine 
he must have been all of five or six or seven years older 
than I, so he ' s probably either approaching eighty or in 
his eighties. But he became a little bit ill, and then 
he had a fall which laid him up for a number of months, 
and since that he's been doing very little. Finally, 
when an opportunity came, he sold his business. He'd 
been trying to sell his business; and he almost succeeded 
at another time, but the deal didn't go through. The peo- 
ple couldn't raise the money. But the Japanese came along 
with whatever he wanted, and they got the whole works. 
Cleaned the whole thing up; didn't bother sorting, just 
packed it. Another curious thing about it is that his 
principal assistant for so many years was a Japanese girl, 
[Nakuno Serisawa] . I don't know if that contributed to 
the sale or not. 

The Spanish Bookstore moved to 629--oh, no, they were 
at 629 West Sixth. They later moved. The Technical Book- 
shop opened at 726 South Spring Street. I think they'd 
been open before that, but they moved to 72 6 South Spring. 

444 



They were there for a number of years, then they moved 
down to Third and Spring. Now they've closed that re- 
cently, and they're somewhere on VJestwood Boulevard, I 
believe. They now sell, I think, medical books, too. 
There was a bookstore that opened at 628 West Sixth, which 
was across the street from my old location, 625, called 
the AAA Bookstore--whatever that meant. 

GARDNER: That meant they wanted the first listing in the 
phone book. 

EPSTEIN: That's exactly it. But apparently that didn't 
help them too much, because they didn't stay in business 
too long. In 194 9, I noticed a new name in the phone book, 
John Q. Burch. Well, it wasn't new, but he'd moved to 
1584 West Vernon. And I think I spoke to you about John 
Burch before as having become a specialist in books on 
conchology. He developed a worldwide business and did 
extremely well with it. He's a retired railroad man who 
went into the book business. There, again, to prove a 
principle, if you have an interest, you can usually build 
a business around it. 

GARDNER: That sounds like a funny address for a bookshop. 
EPSTEIN: VJell, at the time it was a much better neighbor- 
hood than it is now. I'm talking about 1949. 
GARDNER: I see. Did he remain there? Did he move? 
EPSTEIN: He remained there for quite a few years and then 
moved his business to his home, which was in the area to 



445 



the west of that, the Leimert Park area. 

There's a peculiar lady, Miss F. Gertzweig, who had 
a shop at 6093 Sunset Boulevard. She sold cards and 
occasionally even dresses and one thing or another. But 
she had a circulating library and took orders for books 
for people. At the time of '49, she was located not too 
far from — that studio on Gower--Columbia. She got a little 
bit of overflow of business. She was a very loud, demanding 
person, but she was a character. She was an old maiden lady 
who made her living in her own way. But she used to torment 
us no end. She would expect us to mail books to her, mail 
them to her customers and all that, demanding discounts 
larger than she was entitled to. We used to give dealers 
10 percent discount and she always complained, "Well, how 
can I make a living on 10 percent?" [laughter] "Well, 
it's either you making a living or me making a living." 
"Well, you're rich, you've got this great big store." 
Ilaughter] But she was a harmless person. 

Coming into 1950, Acres of Books — I think they moved 
at that time, sometime in 1950, from 140 Pacific Avenue, 
Long Beach, to Atlantic Boulevard. (They started in Long 
Beach long before 1950.) Acres of Books is sort of a 
legendary place. It was opened by Bertrand Smith. Bertrand 
Smith had a place called Acres of Books in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
A more or less successful bookseller, he was British by 
origin. He got a tremendous amount of space, and he would 



446 



buy anything and everything and store it away on the 
shelves where you had to really dig out things. And 
they were all reasonably priced. And eventually, if 
you held them long enough, some of those things that 
were extremely common and no account became a little bit 
more desirable, in the sense that somebody might always 
be looking for something of that nature. He built a big 
business on that basis. He later moved to a very, very 
large store on Atlantic Boulevard in Long Beach. If you've 
never been there, it's really a sight. It's a lot of little 
cubbyholes. You really have to seek and find whatever you 
think might be necessary. I've been there a couple of 
times, but it just is impossible for me to look through. 

Bertrand was a very nice person--very affable, nice 
to talk to. He really had a genuine love for books, any 
kind of book. It's almost like [John W. ] Todd [Jr.] of 
Shorey's in Seattle. A book had to be preserved, no matter 
what, and it was a sacrilege to destroy a book, or not to 
treat it with great respect — which I agree with. Every 
book is entitled to respect. But if everybody held onto 
every book that was ever published, there wouldn't be 
enough room in the world to keep all the books. And there 
wouldn't be any scarce books because all the editions would 
be fully available and there would be no scarcity. 

But he passed on, oh, about ten years ago, and his two 
sons are running the business along the same lines that the 



447 



father had, and they're doing quite well. 

Dale's Bookazine had moved to — Harry Dale had moved 
to 749 South Spring. He's the chap I told you about that 
bought out Holmes when the old man had to close up shop. 

Jack Blum opened the Cherokee Bookshop, at 1646 
Cherokee. They're now on Hollywood Boulevard, a block 
west of Musso's. His sons [Gene and Burt] are now taking 
over the business. They do a fairly good business. Gene 
now does most of the running of the store. They specialize 
in film things. One of the sons [Burt] has gone into comic 
books. Another one has gone into fantasy books, science 
fiction. And each one knows his area pretty well. There 
is also Jack's brother, Harry, who has been there a long 
time. Then they have another chap who specializes in 
World War I and II books. He sort of parceled out spe- 
cialties into his store. In addition to that, he has a 
very nice stock of sets, which are becoming very scarce. 
Of course, they're now very high priced. But it's not the 
kind of a store that I would appreciate myself. Neverthe- 
less, it's a good store. 
GARDNER: VJhat do you mean by that? 

EPSTEIN: Well, it's not arranged like I would arrange it. 
It's hard to browse in it. They have three levels. One is 
a half-basement, and the third level is sort of a half- 
mezzanine. It's a very difficult store to browse in. As 
a matter of fact, they don't encourage you too much to browse. 



448 



In spite of what I say--that it isn't a kind of a store 
I would run--nevertheless it's still a good bookstore. 
Jack is a very nice person. He's on the verge of re- 
tiring now. He's just hanging on until his sons get a 
little bit better feel of it. They're probably waiting 
till he retires. [laughter] That's the usual battle be- 
tween the ages. 

Harry Levinson appears on the scene around 1950. He 
has an address at 9527 Brighton Way, but I think he did 
business from his home for quite a while. He came in from 
New York, a very knowledgeable guy with an extremely fine 
collection of reference books pertaining to books--very 
scarce bibliographies. He's a very, very able bookman. 
I never did much business with Harry because by that time 
my biggest interest was in the new-book business. He used 
to come in and browse through our rare books and buy some 
things from us from time to time. He established himself 
as a major bookseller, a national bookseller in rare books. 
He used to make his regular buying trips to Europe, all 
over Europe, and he's considered one of the most know- 
ledgeable booksellers — perhaps, I would say, next to Jake. 
But he's a different type of character from Jake — very close- 
mouthed. He did participate in the antiquarian bookseller's 
group. He just recently gave up that location on Brighton. 
Now he's doing business from a very big home he bought in 
Beverly Hills. He built a special section of his home for 



449 



the books. Unfortunately, within a year or two after 
they moved into this very big home, his wife was killed 

in an automobile accident. And they had no children. I 

* 
suspect that Harry's a fairly lonely person. He was never 

a person to make friends, as Jake has and some of the 
others. He always stayed pretty much in the background — 
which is no criticism of him, by any means. Nevertheless, 
that's the type of personality he had. But he was an ex- 
tremely able bookman, and in that context he left his mark 
on the book business. 

I find a note here on Jack E. Reynolds. At that time 
he was on Santa Monica Boulevard, at 4561. Jack is still 
in business, a specialist in Western Americana. He's some- 
where, I think, in the West Valley — 16031 Sherman Way, Van 
Nuys. I've never been to his West Valley store. He's 
been there for many, many years. He still follows his 
specialty — very knowledgeable. He participates in various 
historical societies. He's written little squibs about this, 
that, and the other. He's active in the Westerners, Los 
Angeles Corral. 

The Westerners have branches all over the United States; 
and even in London and Paris, they have corrals there. They 
organize a group of people whose interest is Western-book 
cpllecting — books about the West, Indians, etc., etc. 



* He has since remarried. -- [L. E. ] 



450 



Somebody got the idea of having these corrals, and there's 
been a very active one in Los Angeles for many years. The 
Los Angeles one publishes a yearbook, of which I have most 
copies; and I'm a member of it. I think eight times a 
year they issue a little bulletin, and with the bulletin 
usually comes a treatment of some special subject by some- 
body in the corral whose specialty it is. Some of them 
are very fine pieces of research. 
GARDNER: It's a historical society, really. 
EPSTEIN: Yes. They don't call themselves that, but in 
effect that's what it is — but slightly on a different plane. 
It's less public than, say, the Southern California Historical 
Society. Jack is still active in the business, and he has a 
good reputation. 

We'll go on to 19 51. I checked over a few of the mem- 
berships of the antiquarian group members, and I find the 
name of Ernest E. Gottlieb. Gottlieb was a specialist in 
music. He died rather young, unfortunately. 

Max Hunley appears on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly 
Hills. He had previously been in a little arcade just south 
of Santa Monica Boulevard on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. 
I don't know if you're familiar with that. There's a small 
arcade; it's still there. He had a small store like that 
in these arcades, and later he moved to the location where 
he still is. Just the other day, cleaning out a bunch of 
old catalogs — I have catalogs kicking around here, some of 



451 



them dated 192 8, periods of that time — I ran across about 
a dozen of Max's catalogs. The earliest one was dated 
catalog number three, around '30, '31. So for a gag I 
called him. I said, "Max, I want to give you an order." 
He said, "Louis, that's great." So I told him, "From 
catalog three, give me item number seven." He said, 
"Louis , what are you talking about? Where did you find 
that?" I said, "Well, Max, I found a group of your old 
catalogs. How would you like to have them?" "Oh," he 
said, "I'd love to have them." So I said, "Okay, I'll 
send them on to you." He got a big kick out of that. 
GARDNER: What was the item? 

EPSTEIN: I have no idea. I just pulled an item out of 
it. Things that are now selling for fifty dollars were 
listed at two dollars. This is way back in the middle 
thirties; that was the time to buy rare books. But no one 
had money then. It's amazing. I think I mentioned Max be- 
fore. However, Max is of the same era of my career as Mel 
Royer. He, too, was one of my earliest customers on Sixth 
Street. He, at that time, was working for a stock brokerage 
house. And of course the stock brokerage houses were hav- 
ing even a rougher time than they are now, and eventually 
he lost his job. He worked at something else for a while, 
but he was always a good book collector, and finally he 
went into the business. And we used to buy and sell to 
each other. His people had the Hunley Theatre, which was 



452 



on Hollywood Boulevard not too far from Western. He was 
there a long, long time. Max was a very conservative 
person, and even in those days I think he would venture 
in and out of the stock market. I'm inclined to believe 
that Max is quite provided with the wherewithal that peo- 
ple call "rich." Ilaughter] But we always got along very 
nicely. The common gag was, after I opened up on Holly- 
wood Boulevard and began to prosper a little bit, he 
always said, "Louis, what do you do with all your money?" — 
which is still a gag between us. The first one who gets 
a line out when we meet. 

GARDNER: He's still there on Santa Monica Boulevard? 
EPSTEIN: Yes, he's still there. The shop is closed half 
the time. He loves to go fishing. Every year he used to 
go to Europe. He ' s a great Anglophile. He used to go to 
Europe for about two months and go through the bookshops 
there, besides taking a walking tour or a bicycle tour, 
combining business with pleasure. He had a nice way of 
living, just the way he wanted, and he ran his business 
that way. It leads me to believe that he wasn't that hard- 
pressed for business, like the rest of us were at that time; 
that he could do the things he did at the time he did them. 
None of us could close up for two months and go traveling. 
GARDNER: Did he have any specialization in particular? 
EPSTEIN: He specialized in first editions. He went in 
the children' s-book market. Western books. Quite general, 

453 



rare books . 

GARDNER: I made a note — I think we looked through the 
same catalog, probably--in that first 1950 antiquarians' 
listing they mention that he attended Columbia and the 
University of Paris as well as UCLA. 

EPSTEIN: That I didn't know, and I'm glad to learn that. 
He was a big cut above the average bookman as far as knowl- 
edge and background was concerned. That was apparent. I 
knew he was well educated, but I did not know that he went 
to those universities. 

GARDNER: Well, that attests to his humility, anyway. 
EPSTEIN: That verifies the fact that there must have been 
money in the family, because I don't know of any other book- 
seller who had that kind of background, who could have 
afforded to go to those schools. Most of us, like Jake 
and myself, had to dig in to scratch out a living, and 
the same way for our parents. Jake's parents in Texas, 
where he came from — from discussions with Jake — were about 
on a par with my parents. Our generation just didn't have 
the money to send their children to those kinds of schools — 
I mean, our parents' generation, not my generation. Some- 
times I consider myself a first-generation American; and 
other times I'm an immigrant because I came here when I 
was seven, and it's hard to identify myself with my father's 
generation, which is the real immigrant generation. But 
I'm practically raised almost as an American-born. But still 



454 



I am an immigrant. 

GARDNER: My notes say — while we're vaguely on the subject 
Harry Levinson went to City College of New York, which 
would put him, I suppose, in the same category with you 
and Jake, since that was a public university. 
EPSTEIN: Yes, probably. Well, of course, I went to a 
university, too, but they didn't have those multiple col- 
leges, as you mentioned for Max. Max had real scholarship 
behind him. Getting a bachelor's degree was — sometimes we 
attained that. 

I mentioned Max, and I mentioned a few of the others. 
There was a chap by the name of Roman Novins who was in the 
book business for a short time. He had a little shop at 
62 4 North Doheny. 

Then Kurt Schwarz appears on the scene at that time. 
Kurt Schwarz is still in business. He operates from his 
home now. I think Kurt always did. No, he had a shop at 
one time at 4 50 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. Kurt 
came from Germany. He left Germany before the concentration 
camp era, but he had to really escape. They went east 
rather than coming west, so they went through China. He 
lived in Manchuria for a while, I believe, and they lived 
for quite a while in Shanghai. His parents were booksellers, 
and I think even their parents before them; so he had a 
thorough background in the rare-book business. Fortunately, 
once you have a rare-book background and get to a place like 



455 



Shanghai, with that background you immediately begin to 
search for a way of getting into the rare-book business 
there. They found enough books, and then from Shanghai 
they could correspond to England. So they carried on, 
more or less, and finally came to this country. But it 
is apparent that they did not lose all their property. 
So he came here with some assets, and he didn't have to 
start from scratch and struggle like the case might have 
been with a refugee. Kurt had a stroke here a number of 
years ago, and he still walks with a limp, and one of his 
arms still bothers him. Nevertheless, he's still back 
conducting his business. He's training his son [Thomas F.], 
who, instead of having a classical education for the book 
business, studied psychology. I don't know how far his 
degree took him--whether he ever took the PhD or not. But 
apparently his son may follow up in the trade. 
GARDNER: What was his specialization? 

EPSTEIN: Well, early books in all languages. A lot of the 
foreign rare books. His business was predominantly in very 
scarce books for libraries and for collectors. But he was 
a very fine gentleman. His wife [Martha M.] is very nice. 
r reraeiT±>er we were there one time for a meeting, and his 
wife baked a chocolate cake which Ann fell in love with. 
And Ann asked her for the recipe, and she gave her the 
recipe in ounces of everything, not pints. Everything was 
measured in ounces, including the eggs. Ann tried the 



456 



recipe, and it came out pretty good but not quite as well 
as Mrs. Schwarz's. She was a Viennese cook. Everything 
was very rich, but excellent. 

Let's see. Borzon Books: it's a shop that opened 
at 1624 North Las Palmas. It didn't last very long. I 
mention it simply because it was there. Martin Bloch 
opened up a little bookstore at 1716 North Wilcox. He 
worked for years for the Hollywood Bookstore. A very 
good bookman, very erratic. He later was one of the pub- 
lishers and the editor of a magazine called One , which was 
a magazine for the gay community. I doubt whether that 
magazine is still in existence or not. But at any rate, 
he's out of that. Where he is now, I have no idea. But 
he was a good bookman. You never knew which way he was 
going to jump when you met him. But he could sell books, 
and he knew his books. He really was much interested in 
that. 

Brentano's closed up their downtown store that year. 
California Book Company, which I mentioned to you was Max 
Walker, closed out. Harry Dale moved his Bookazine to 
649 South Main. I think Harry used to move whenever a 
landlord of his couldn't wait any longer for his rent. 

Howard and Reese bought 719 West Sixth Street, which 
was, I think, the old Curio, and it became the Book Center. 
I think I mentioned that. It's a Miss Howard and a Mr. 
Reese. Miss Howard was a musician with the Los Angeles 

457 



Philharmonic, and she was a customer of ours for many, 
many years. She lived with a friend of hers, a lady friend, 
and they were both good book buyers, both of them musicians. 
All of a sudden she announces to us that she had bought 
that store. And the partner, Reese, is a chap who used 
to work for us in the old-book department. I didn't think 
much of his ability. At any rate, they bought that store. 
Miss Howard always wanted to own a bookstore. And she had 
a few thousand dollars saved up, and she put it into that 
bookstore — which, of course, turned out to be a disaster. 
After two years, I guess, Reese had it all--not because he 
took it from her, but because she just didn't want it any- 
more . 

GARDNER: Why was it a disaster? 

EPSTEIN: Well, they just weren't doing any business. She 
didn't have any time to pay attention to it. It's the kind 
of store that they bought. If they'd bought, perhaps, a 
smaller store, they could have specialized--say , she in 
music, or he in something else—and they'd have built up 
a business. It might have had an opportunity to be success- 
ful. But as I mentioned to you, that Curio Bookshop, which 
became later the Book Center, was a junk heap. There were 
so many books in there that no one could find anything. And 
Reese, again, was the type of person who couldn't leave a 
thing alone. He had no way of measuring the worth of his 
time, in the sense that he would spend as much time 



458 



classifying and looking up a book that was on face worth- 
less; but no, he had to find out the exact price at which 
it was published and everything about it. And having been 
as long in the business as he had been, working for us, and 
seeing all the books priced, he should have been able to 
throw things out, worthless things, and able to price things 
right from his head, instead of having to catalog separately 
each and every book that came his way. If he tried to do 
that for the entire stock of Curio Bookshop, it would take 
him five of his lifetimes. He had the same kind of a fault 
as Bechtold. But Bechtold realized that, I suppose — and 
we explained it to him. He went into his own specialty in 
a small way, out of his own home, and did his thing — whereas 
this chap, I don't think was as smart as Bechtold. 

So poor Howard lost her money, and eventually Reese 
had to give the thing up, too. But these curious combina- 
tions that gathered together in the book business — simply 
because he had worked for the Pickwick, which gave him a 
little bit of status. He had worked in the old-book depart- 
ment there, and they had met there, in the old-book depart- 
ment. But Howard was a very nice woman. I was really sorry 
when she told me that she went into that deal. I told her, 
"Why didn't you consult with me?" No, she wanted to keep it 
private. She was a private person. But later on she told 
me that she wishes that she had. But I don't suppose anyone 
could have talked her out of it. She had almost a compulsion 

459 



that she wanted to be [in business]. I haven't seen her 
in years. She's no longer with the Philharmonic. She may 
be retired and is living quietly somewhere. 

There was an outfit in South Pasadena, I believe it was, 
called P.D. and lone Perkins. Oriental books. And that was 
their specialty: books about the Orient and Japanese books, 
mostly Japanese books. I don't think they had any Chinese 
books. And P.D. Perkins had been a salesman for the Sparkletts 
water firm. What was the name? It had a different name. The 
Coca-Cola Company of Los Angeles bought them out. And he had 
been a sales manager for them. Very nice man. But he got 
this yen for Oriental books. I guess he started collecting 
Oriental things. He used to go back to Japan. He gave up 
his job with Sparkletts. They had another name. They had 
two kinds of water — Sparkletts and something else. 
GARDNER: Arrowhead? 

EPSTEIN: Arrowhead, right. Arrowhead, that's it. I don't 
know what happened to the name of Arrowhead. 

GARDNER: They're still there. It's another company, isn't 
it? 

EPSTEIN: Well, they bought out Sparkletts and Arrowhead 
combined, and then Coca-Cola of L.A. bought the combined 
outfit. They were both competing water companies. 
GARDNER: There still are two. I wonder what the second 
one is? 
EPSTEIN: They may use the two different trade names. I 

460 



see Sparkletts, but I never see Arrowhead. Maybe in some 
other communities, they might use the name Arrowhead. I 
don't know. But they combined, and then a local Coca-Cola 
Company bought them both. I happen to know that because I 
own some stock in the local Coca-Cola Company--which might 
do better than it's doing. It was very good, but it isn't 
now. 

At any rate, he went to Japan and lived there for a 
while, then he came back and he adopted Japanese mannerisms. 
He used to bow to you three times when you met. But he 
was a nice person. What he did, he did well, and apparent- 
ly he made out well. They sold the company to some other 
people, who are running it, I think, under the same name — 
not Perkins, but something else. But I don't hear too much 
about them now. 

I have a note here that this period of '51, Jack 
Reynolds moved to 16031 Sherman Way. I told you I didn't 
know just where he moved to. I'm coming to 1952. The 
Technical Book Company moved to 353 South Spring — I men- 
tioned to you that they later moved to Spring — and Gideon 
Herman became the owner of the Abbey Bookshop, which I men- 
tioned previously in the history. 

Charlie Yale opened the shop at 985 East Green Street 
in Pasadena. I mentioned before that Charlie Yale had worked 
for Dawson's for many years. He was their second-in-command, 
a very fine bookman and a very fine person. I remember when 

461 



I first opened on Sixth Street, he came over and introduced 
himself and offered his help to answer any questions I 
might have, which I thought was extremely nice. I think 
I mentioned Mr. Dawson did the same thing. The Dawson 
people were always very fine, very nice people, in that 
they were always helping the trade. To this day, I think 
Glen and Muir are always doing something for the booksellers' 
organizations. They participate in everything bookish. 
Glen is on the board of Los Angeles Library Association, 
of which I am a member at the present time. I have a meet- 
ing tomorrow. LALA. 

Coming back to Charlie Yale: he left Dawson's and 
opened a business of his own; and later on his son. Bud 
Yale, came in. Charlie Yale, unfortunately, died, oh, 
about five, six years after he opened the shop. And his 
son took over and ran it for about five, six, seven years, 
and then he died. It was very unfortunate, especially the 
son was a very young man when he died. But Charlie--! guess, 
I considered him about ten years older than I when I first 
met him at Dawson's, But he was one of the good bookish 
bookmen, and he knew his business, knew his Western Americana 
thoroughly. That was his specialty. 
GARDNER: Had his son kept up the business? 

EPSTEIN: The son kept up the business on Green Street until 
he died, when they sold off the stock. As a matter of fact, 
the other day, looking through the old catalogs, I found the 

462 



last catalog that was put out after the son's death, to 

liquidate the stock. [There were] a lot of bibliographies 

that I would like to have now, now that I have time to 

read them, just for the sake of having the background 

knowledge . 

GARDNER: An interesting point, when I was looking through 

the minutes of the antiquarian society. . . . 

EPSTEIN: He was, I think, the first president. 

GARDNER: He was the first president, and then also, I 

guess you succeeded him, I think. 

EPSTEIN: Yes. 

GARDNER: Because when he died, I think, during your term, 

you gave the eulogy at the funeral. 

EPSTEIN: Yes. How about that? Where 'd you get that 

information? 

GARDNER: Out of those document boxes I told you were at 

UCLA. 

EPSTEIN: Yes, I succeeded him. He and I and several 

others were the founding members. 

GAFIDNER: Well, we can talk about that when we get through 

the list, perhaps, about how it happened to be founded. 

EPSTEIN: And also '52 was the year that Dale bought out 

Holmes. Mr. Harelick moved to Melrose, which is simply 

entered here just for the record. There was a circulating 

library which did a very big business, called Guild Rental 

Library, at 7208 Hollywood Boulevard, which is just east of La 

463 



Brea. And the man who ran it — I forget his name — used 
to buy books from us, and from time to time we'd have 
some dealings of one kind or another. He used to rent 
a lot of books to studios for reading, for the readers, 
whereas we used to rent a lot of books to studios for 
background, for movie sets. They would lease them to 
the readers for reading purposes. When they got a story 
they were interested in, instead of buying the book, this 
man would loan it out to them. At that time there were 
a lot of people still going to circulating libraries. 
But it was a dying business, and eventually he had to 
sell it off or get rid of his stock. 

I notice that's the year that Milton Luboviski parted 
company with Ida Needham. Have I talked to you about the 
Needhams? 
GARDNER: No. 

EPSTEIN: Ida Needham' s husband was Wilbur. Wilbur was 
totally deaf. She, of course, Tvas his mouthpiece and his 
ears. Wilbur was a very literary person. He did some 
book reviewing for the Times when Paul Jordan-Smith was 
editor of the Times book page. They opened a store, for 
secondhand books , during the bad years . They had a 
struggle. They fought their way up and established a 
pretty fair business, which later was in Brentwood on 
San Vicente. 
GARDNER: Was this after the association with Luboviski? 



464 



EPSTEIN: Yes. 
GARDNER: I see. 

EPSTEIN: Ida had worked around in various bookstores from 
time to time. She'd worked for Milton and some of the others. 
Ida was a very good bookwoman, and Wilbur knew his book- 
stores and he knew how to hunt out books. But they were 
never in the big time in the book business. Number one, 
they weren't too businesslike; and Wilbur, of course, had 
this horrible handicap of not being able to hear. Wilbur 
was very social conscious. Of course, Ida was, too, but 
not to the degree that Wilbur was. I wouldn't be surprised 
that Wilbur at one time might have been a member of the 
iCommunist] party. He used to come into my place. He was 
always going around looking for books for the shop or for 
others or for customers. And we'd sell him a lot of books. 

But he became angry with me, for this reason: there 
was a group started up in our store who were going to have 
a strike, which never got off its feet. And apparently he 
was familiar with the background of it. And the reason it 
never did get off its feet — it probably wouldn't have gotten 
off its feet for more reasons than the one that's given. And 
the reason for its immediate failure was that the attorney 
we hired to represent us against the union researched most 
everybody, and he discovered that their leader was a chap 
working for us for a time, but not for long, by the name of 
[Robert] Klonsky. 

465 



TAPE NUMBER: X, SIDE TWO 
JULY 15, 1974 

GARDNER: I'm waiting with bated breath for the end of the 
sentence. [laughter] 

EPSTEIN: Klonsky was a Communist from way back. His 
picture appeared in an early issue of Life magazine as 
a very young man. He would be the picture of a Communist, 
you might picture, of a Communist of the twenties — wild 
hair and wild eyes. I suppose they might have gotten the 
picture during wild circumstances, too. But at any rate, 
he was that. The attorney we had for us, of course, re- 
searched the leaders, the people for it, and he brought 
that information to the [Retail] Clerks' Union. "Here is 

your leader; here's his picture; here's the documenta- 

* 
tion on him." And the strike threat collapsed. They 

couldn't have organized our place anyway because the peo- 
ple there didn't want to go to any union. (Remind me to 
get back to Wilbur, which was where the story started.) 



* Strike threat occurred around the first week of December 
1957. Our attorneys were Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, Balthis 
& Hampton. Working with them from their offices was a labor 
relations counselor by the name of Jack McDowell. He was 
the one we worked very closely with. The Retail Clerks 
International Association (affiliated with AFL-CIO) repre- 
sentative was Mel Rubin. Local 777. Curious comment can 
be made that local 777 was a good customer of Pickwick, and 
continued to buy books from Pickwick through the entire 
controversy, and remained a good customer, and probably 
still is. — [L.E. ] 



466 



But while I'm on this strike business, this Klonsky had 
just been hired about two months before. He claimed that 
he had a little bookstore in Philadelphia, and anyone with 
a little bit of experience, we were very happy to have. 
Well, I never bothered to ask anybody what kind of a book- 
store it was. It happened to be the same kind of a radical- 
book store as the Lincoln Bookstore, or whatever the--what 
is the one called here now, the People's Bookstore? I don't 
think the People's Bookstore here now represents the 
Communist party the way that those bookstores were really 
arms of the party in those days because the party, of course, 
is not near as strong now as it was then. They don't have 
the money. 

At any rate, within three weeks, four weeks, we had a 
strike on our hands — or the threat of a strike. Well, at 
any rate, we blocked it. Apparently, there was a coterie, 
an association. Immediately, we lost the goodwill of a seg- 
ment of dealers and a segment of our customers--for no reason 
at all except that there was the threat of a strike and that 
the strike did not succeed. I received a few nasty letters, 
and they were not from the people who I. . . . One of them 
was from a person who'd been a customer for years. Apparently, 
they did have sort of an underground, which was connected, 
perhaps because of him — Klonsky. Word got around from di- 
rections which I never had heard of. And apparently Wilbur 
was involved in some way--not associated but knew these 

467 



people well enough to come to me one day and cuss me out 
for being a capitalist. And he never came back to our 
shop. We were very good friends. I'd befriended him on 
many occasions. I loaned him money, and I actually gave 
him money when they were starving. But that cut no ice 
with him. I was a capitalist. I was a no-good capitalist. 



GARDNER 
EPSTEIN 
GARDNER 
EPSTEIN 



At what point was this? 

Well, let me see. It would be in 1958. 

Who was your attorney? 

I can't think of him. [See note.] I haven't seen 
or talked to him in [years]. I had to hire a special labor 
attorney. My attorney advised me to seek him out, and I 
did. I got him through some people here in Hollywood who 
had had similar trouble. I can't think of his name. 
GARDNER: So back to Wilbur Needham. 

EPSTEIN: That was one incident where it really hurt--not 
my pride, but I thought that I was unjustly accused of do- 
ing a bad thing. I don't think I did a bad thing because 
operating a bookstore under a union, especially with what 
the unions are trying to do now in bookstores, would be an 
almost impossible task. At least, I thought so at the time, 
and I still think so. At that time, it was even worse, be- 
cause of the demands they make. They came in with a series 
of demands: to have a policy in the business, and to even 
have a right to reject certain books — which is totally im- 
possible to run the kind of a bookstore I want and the kind 



468 



of a bookstore any reasonable man would want to run if he 
wanted to be independent, have an independent mind of his 
own. At any rate, the thing fell through. Wilbur was 
angry with me and really told me off in no uncertain terms 
that I was a goddamned capitalist. I used to bump into 
Ida every so often in book places. I did bump into Wilbur 
once or twice over the years, but we just exchanged hello, 
nothing beyond that. But Ida probably was a little bit 
more open-minded on the subject, and she used to come in 
when she needed something or when she thought she had some- 
thing that we might need. But I never saw their shop that 
they opened. I understand it's a very nice shop. 
GARDNER: Well, they've moved now from Brentwood. 
EPSTEIN: When Wilbur died, Ida sold the shop, and it's 
now moved to Westwood Boulevard, 2000 block something. I'm 
trying to think of the name of the couple that own it. I'll 
get you the name. It should be in the record right now. 
[tape stopped] The Needham Bookshop is now the Needham 
Book Finders. Ida sold out to the Needham Book Finders, 
the [Stanley and Eleanor] Kurmans. And they belong to the 
Antiquarian Booksellers now. They're running a nice shop. 
They do some library business, of course, like most of the 
old-book shops have to these days. 

Well, that's the story of Wilbur and Ida Needham. I 
was fond of Wilbur, and that's why it hurt me so much. You 
know, some things you pass off, but it hurt my pride and it 

469 



hurt my feeling of friendship. We were really friendly to 
him. We went out of our way to give him deals, and when 
they went in the old-book business, sometimes when [there 
was] something we couldn't deal in, they could. We recom- 
mended them at every turn. We did the most we could--be- 
cause it was a hardship. The man had an extreme handicap. 
Perhaps it was the handicap that made him more bitter than 
perhaps some other people. But he was a true idealist. The 
fact that he expressed his idealism in that form — well, 
like a great many others. I don't know; the full history 
isn't told yet. It takes a couple of hundred years, maybe, 
to find out actually which system is better. And it also 
proved to me that it was still a very active party. Within 
days of the whole thing, I started getting nasty letters 
from people and phony phone calls. "Come out to such and 
such an address; we've got a big library." We'd get out 
there, and there was no such address. It strictly emanated 
from that, which, of course, reminds me of the time when 
Hollywood had a powerful commune here before and after the 
Hollywood Ten incident. They were quite arrogant when 
they thought they were in power, almost as arrogant as the 
Birchers were when they thought they were in power — you 
know, taking a book and throwing it on the floor: "Why in 
the hell are you selling this fascist book?" Or "Nazi book" 
or whatever. And it's only fascist and Nazi because they 
said so. Maybe the man's leanings were that way. I don't 

470 



know. But they weren't that bad, except that they said 
it. And by the same token: "Why don't you put this one 
in the window?" when it was somebody they liked — which 
is exactly the same tactics that the Birchers used, except 
the Birchers used to write more letters and [have] more 
direct phone calls saying, "Close my account." They 
didn't write nasty letters. They would write nasty let- 
ters in the sense that, "I won't trade with you now; you're 
a traitor to your country," but not nasty letters, in the 
sense that they called you names or things of that nature, 
which was the other type. But the extremes go to extremes, 
which of course has taught me--and would teach anyone who 
was a reasonable person — a lesson: stay away from extremes. 
There's room for everybody. Stay away from extremes. Ex- 
tremes are dangerous in many ways. In politics, in science, 
you have to find a means of doing things which is reasonable, 
to make it fit into the machinery or change the machinery 
when you can, but you have to mesh into the machinery for 
everyday living. And there's a certain way of having the 
machinery changed--or repaired, you might say~to do a better 
job this way or the other. 

As far as politics was concerned, I was almost apolit- 
ical, in the sense that parties themselves were meaning- 
less terms to me in most cases. When I did vote, I would 
vote for the man. I was a registered Democrat. You have to 
pick one party or another, and my leanings were more for the 

471 



Democratic ideas rather than the Republican. But if the 
Rep\iblicans put up a man like Warren, I voted for Warren — 
or [Goodwin J. ] Knight — rather than whoever the Democrats 
had at the time. Even to this day, people ask me who I'll 
vote for. I'll wait and see and listen to the guy for a 
while rather than say, "Well, I'm a Democrat. I have to 
vote for the Democratic party." Well, that's quite an aside 
from where we were. 

That's the story of my relations v/ith the Needhams. 
Curiously, I bumped into Ida. She was in the shop several 
years ago, before I retired. The year before I retired-- 
about three years ago. And we had quite a nice visit to- 
gether. ^Vhen Wilbur died, I sent her a nice letter, tell- 
ing her how much I admired his knowledge and the fact that 
he put up such a fine struggle to do what he wanted to do 
in the book business. I didn't say anything about the 
fact that we had our differences. Because I did admire 
him: I admired his courage, and I admired his literary 
knowledge and his taste for books. He was one of the first 
ones to pick up Steinbeck with his first book; he picked 
him as a comer. He had all the early Steinbecks, which 
later became very valuable. And he became acquainted with 
Steinbeck. He had a lot of autographed Steinbeck material, 
which I imagine Ida still has. Well, that's that. 

In 1952 we noticed that Milton Luboviski and Ida had 
separated. I'm not sure whether Ida just worked for him or 

472 



whether it was a partnership. 

GARDNER: At that point the shop is Milton Luboviski's, 
isn't it? 

EPSTEIN: Yes. Larry Edmunds. 

GARDNER: What's happened to Larry Edmunds in the meantime? 
EPSTEIN: Didn't I mention when I spoke of Stanley Rose 
that Larry Edmunds later had committed suicide? 
GARDNER: Oh, he did, too? 

EPSTEIN: It's a curious thing. Milton Luboviski's first 
wife — he and his first wife was divorced, and Larry Edmunds 
married her. Later on they had problems, and next we heard 
that Larry had committed suicide. Larry, I think, was in- 
volved to some degree, involved in the [Communist] party. 
I heard rumblings that that in some way led to his suicide. 
Now, I've never heard the full details, and I offer this 
statement only as something that I heard. But I'm convinced 
in my own mind that he was involved with the party, because 
the actions and reactions to the Russian-United States re- 
lationship was such that you could feel it — the way they 
reacted to something that Russia did and the way they re- 
acted to something the United States did versus Russia. 
There was quite a colony here in Hollywood, and anybody 
that denies it isn't so. . . . Not that I feel that the 
Hollywood Ten were treated properly, because I think they 
were not. And I knew them all. And 80 percent of them 
that I knew were Communists, but two of them I was not too 

473 



well acquainted with. They were all customers of ours. 
I never approved of the treatment they got. But they 
were; there was no question in my mind that they were. 
The fact that it was nobody's business whether they were 
or not is something else again. To be condemned for what 
they were years later was wrong. That's the way they felt 
and that's the way it was. 

But there was that colony which was related to that 
particular Luboviski and Larry Edmunds bookstore when they 
were partners. Now, to what extent Milton was involved in 
those days, I don't know, but there's no question in my 
mind that he has no use for them now. 

There at one time was an Anti-Nazi League, as you 
remember. And they had a bookstore on Fairfax for a short 
time. A lot of the Hollywood people were supporting it, 
and of course the Anti-Nazi League were fighting Nazis. 
We paid membership dues for a while, because, well, we used 
to think. . . . But there was a strong Commie group in it, 
and they were prepared to use it only as it affected Russia 
versus Germany. It was all for a second front, for the 
United States to come in right away. Of course, when things 
got turned around, it was exactly the opposite later. \«Jhen 
the second front had to be extended to the Pacific area, 
they were not there. Well, at any rate, that's a digression 
from bookselling. But it was part of the Hollywood scene. 
GARDNER: To get back to the bookselling, Milton Luboviski 

474 



runs the store to this day, right? 

EPSTEIN: He's loyal to Larry Edmunds's name. It's run 
to this day. Milton is a top authority on books pertain- 
ing to the movies and movie people and so forth. He did 
a lot of appraising work for movie writers when it was 
the fashion to give things to some charitable institution. 
For instance, a writer had a lot of scripts, and they were 
valued at x number of dollars, given to USC, for instance, 
where they have a school of motion pictures--or whatever 
they call it — and also UCLA, to get a tax deduction for 
it. But I think the government has stepped in on that 
and is not as liberal in the tax allowances for that type 
of thing. [tape stopped] Milton has done a lot of apprais- 
ing work as an official appraiser, as a licensed appraiser. 
And he is an authority on certain types of books, especially 
the film arts and some theater. He does an international 
business. 

GARDNER: Well, it's an area that's become extremely topical. 
EPSTEIN: He specializes mostly with libraries all over the 
world. It seems like every country that gains a little bit 
of independence wants to become thoroughly cultured, so 
they establish a motion picture department. He's listed 
in all the bibliographies and directories, I suppose, for 
that kind of thing. So they approach him or they had heard 
of him or they had been here. We have had many groups of 
motion picture people visiting the Pickwick during my time, 

475 



where there were a group of motion picture people sent by 
the government. And we have sold many books to such groups 
and shipped them to the government. But he has a lot of 
old things. 

GARDNER: And he's one of the only ones that specializes 
in that, too. 

EPSTEIN: One of the only ones — yes, one of the few that 
specializes. There are a few others. But he has accumu- 
lated a tremendous stock of that thing, and he has them 
in identifiable order--which is the big thing. So if they 
ask for something, he can immediately tell them. But his 
prices — maybe it shouldn't be in the record — are quite 
high. And he admits they're high. He says, "Well, where 
else are you going to get it?" — which I suppose is right 
to do. 

GARDNER: Supply and demand. 

EPSTEIN: To come back to another year, '53, I want to go 
on record with the name of Joe Chevalier, who started a 
small business on Larchmont Boulevard, still going there-- 
Chevalier's Bookstore. Very nice chap. One reason I want 
him to be on the record is that he later became the president 
of the local new-book sellers' group. Not an overly ambi- 
tious person in the sense that he wants to expand his busi- 
ness. He has no family to provide for, so he just enjoys a 
good small business on Larchmont, south of Beverly, in that 
old area there. Well, that is about all I have from the 

476 



record. I'll have to do some more research, maybe, to 
bring it up to date. 
GTU^NER: Well, at your leisure. 

EPSTEIN: At my leisure? VTho has leisure anymore? 
GARDNER: Well, I'll take the list that I have of the 
antiquarians. For the oral record, Mel Royer gave a docu- 
ment box full of old papers. Apparently he was secretary 
to the antiquarian society during those early years. 
EPSTEIN: Yes, he was. He ' s a past president of the anti- 
quarians, too, later on. 

GARDNER: And perhaps the most interesting piece of infor- 
mation in there was the first listing of the Southern Cali- 
fornia Antiquarian Booksellers [Association] , which was 1950. 
Now, many of these names we've gone through. But there are 
some I think perhaps we could discuss in more detail, or 
there might be some who got left out here and there. So 
as long as I have this list handy. . . . And then when 
we get through with that, we can go into the background 
of the Antiquarian [Booksellers Association] and the found- 
ing of the organization. Well, the first few are Ernest 
Gottlieb, whom we did; Max Hunley, whom we did; Harry Levin- 
son; and Walter E. Neuman. Did we talk about him? 
EPSTEIN: Walter E. Neuman. 

GARDNER: He was on Le Doux in Beverly Hills. Do you re- 
call him? 
EPSTEIN: I recall him. I don't know if I got Gottlieb 

477 



and Neuman confused. They were both German refugees. 

GARDNER: Gottlieb was music. 

EPSTEIN: Gottlieb was music. 

GARDNER: Neuman was old maps and prints. 

EPSTEIN: Right. So I did get it right. Gottlieb was 

music. Yes. Neuman was old maps and prints, and he would 

appear at book auctions and book sales and buy anything 

with colored plates in it and colored maps. At one time we 

competed with each other at a sale. I got a few things, 

but he got the bulk of it because he was a specialist. I 

would sell it as a book, where he might take the book apart 

and sell it as plates. 

GARDNER: He was at 132 North Le Doux in Beverly Hills at 

the time. 

EPSTEIN: Yeah. Then he later moved out to Melrose. He 

had a small store on Melrose near Robertson; 132 Le Doux 

is a residence. He was operating from his home at first. 

GARDNER: Is he still in business at all? 

EPSTEIN: I don't know. I never hear of them. I'm inclined 

to doubt it. 

GARDNER: Well, we did Kurt Schwarz. The next one that's 

listed is in Claremont, of all places. It's called the 

Claremont Book and Art Shop. 

EPSTEIN: A chap by the name of [Samuel L.] Brier. Brier 

as a bookseller came out here from New York. And he settled 

in Claremont. He wanted to be in a college community. And 

478 



he operated a small bookstore there--no great shakes. He 
was a peculiar type of person in the sense that he wasn't 
out to be a real bookman. I wouldn't call him a poseur, but 
he wanted to be intelligentsia. But he wasn't quite. He 
wanted that atmosphere. And if he was happy there, of 
course, that was his privilege. He used to come in town ; 
he used to come to meetings occasionally. And actually 
at one time we had a meeting, when Charlie Yale was at 
Claremont. 

GARDNER: At Griswold's or Claremont Inn or something. 
EPSTEIN: Right. That was a sort of memorial meeting. 
Brier was there and I think he furnished the refreshments 
for that meeting, because it was his community. They were 
nice people, but I never considered him as a real major 
book person. 

GARDNER: I was curious seeing it. I wondered how extensive 
a book market there would be in Claremont. 

EPSTEIN: Well, theoretically, because of the college, there 
should be some book market. Of course, there weren't as 
many colleges then as there are now. There wasn't [an ex- 
tensive book market]. The college community wasn't big 
enough, apparently, or maybe he was not the right person 
to draw them. You know, it takes a marriage of two. There 
are many small college communities where a good bookstore 
has been established simply because the person operating 
it had the type of rapport with the college community and 

479 



the town community to establish enough business to make 
a nice go of it. There were several in New England. There 
was one woman in particular. I can't think of her name or 
the name of the bookstore. She ran a bookstore under a 
trade name of some kind, so-and-so bookstore--somewhere in 
a town with a famous girls' college, and I don't even re- 
member the college, whether it was Smith or somewhere. But 
it can be done. I already mentioned that; it has been done 
in many areas. But I don't think he was quite the person. 
GARDNER: Next is Bechtold, whom we've discussed. He was 
in Culver City at the time, doing mostly book search. And 
after that is Arthur Clark, who was in Glendale. 
EPSTEIN: Arthur H. Clark. 

GARDNER: Yes. We talked about Arthur H. Clark, but in a 
very limited way. 

EPSTEIN: Arthur H. Clark — his business was established in 
Cleveland many, many years ago. He published Americana. A 
lot of his books were brought to him by amateur historians 
and other historians, and he would publish them in nice 
editions. And his trade was mostly to libraries. And 
then he also dealt in old books of Americana, mostly Western. 
In the thirties — I forget which year — he moved to the Los 
Angeles area, bought a place in Glendale. They continued 
their business there and did a lot of printing. They did 
considerably more books here, I think, than they did in the 
Cleveland area. They did an excellent job of it and 

480 



continued to be in the old- and rare-book business. I 
always considered them to be high priced, but apparently 
they sold enough books to continue in business. Their 
business is now on South Brand Boulevard. It's the son 
now who owns the business. And I don't think he himself 
is participating in the business too much. What's the 
name? Garrity or something? [P.W. Gallaher] 
GARDNER: No, that's not there. 

EPSTEIN: They've always been friendly to the booksellers. 
Clark--I call him young Clark, as distinguishable from the 
father, who died many years ago — participates in the Los 
Angeles Corral, keeps his contacts with all the important 
Western collectors and Western writers. They're still 
publishing books. They publish a lot of excellent series. 
GARDNER: The next one is another person who's in Glendale — 
who I suspect was fairly minor — John Valentine. 
EPSTEIN: John Valentine actually was not a bookman in the 
sense that he operated a store. I forget now who he backed — 
Jake or who. I think it was Jake and he had quite close 
relations. He made his money, I believe, in the food busi- 
ness some way. And he came out here, and his relationship 
was in the sense that he backed — by golly, if my memory 
doesn't fail me, it was Jake. And he used to come around 
the bookstores, almost as a dealer--usually not alone, but 
with somebody else. And I think he was a collector on his 
own for a while. Whatever happened to him, I don't really 
know. 

481 



GARDNER: The next after John Valentine was Karl Zamboni. 
EPSTEIN: Karl Zamboni is a long, long story. 
GARDNER: Oh, good. 

EPSTEIN: Well, I don't know if I can remember it all. It 
goes way back. Karl Zamboni and Phil Brown had each worked, 
I think, at one time for Holmes during the real bad Depression 
days. Later on, somehow or other they raised enough money 
to buy the Abbey. At one time they owned the Abbey Book- 
shop. There was somebody else's money, of course, in it. 
It was a peculiar mix-up there, and I never did get the 
facts totally straight. Jake, I'm sure, was closer to 
the situation than I can recollect it. But at any rate, 
one of their backers was a music writer here for many, many 
years who wrote a lot of fine music for the movies (and 
I'll be darned if I can think of his name; if I'm not mis- 
taken, it began with an A) . [Lee Harline] He died rather 
young, about ten years ago. Well, this musician divorced 
his wife and married Zamboni 's wife, and the musician's 
wife married Zamboni. They swapped wives, the backers. 
GARDNER: [laughing] That was really before their time. 
It was very avant-garde. 

EPSTEIN: Yes, well, there were people like that then. 
Later on, they sold out the business. Zamboni kicked 
around the book business quite a while. I think he worked 
for Jake for a while, then he worked for Kovach for a while. 
And Phil Brown — he fooled around with books, too. He was 

482 



married to Helen Brown. Helen Brown was a cookbook writer, 
and she was a caterer in Pasadena [with] a very fine repu- 
tation for knowledge of cookery. And Phil started collect- 
ing cookbooks for her, and they formed a fine collection. 
And then Helen wrote a number of books which were published, 
and some of them got national recognition. Phil Brown later 
went to work for Charlie Yale in Pasadena. And when the 
father died--older Charlie Yale — the son Bud took over. 
(His name was Charlie, but everyone called him Bud.) He 
was working with Phil. Phil was, I think, more knowledge- 
able of books than Bud Yale was, so they worked together 
for quite a while.* And then Phil left Charlie Yale and 
went to work with his wife in the catering business. They 
used to have a party every New Year's, and we attended 
several of them. But the house was just packed with 
cookery books — besides other books. Phil had wide inter- 
ests. He was a literary person, and she, too, besides her 
knowledge of cookery. They both wrote. They wrote a couple 
of things together. But she died, unfortunately, about ten 
years ago or so, and Phil was left with all the books and 
with the business--which I think he gave up because she 
was the one people hired because of her reputation as a 
cook.** When you went to their house for a New Year's party. 



* Actually Phil had a piece of the business because it 
was later called Yale and Brown for a while. — [L.E.] 
** I find that Phil is in the catering business. — [L.E.] 



483 



you got some beautiful food. So that, starting with Zamboni, 

brought me back. 

I lost track of Zamboni. I don't know where he is now. 
I mentioned Zamboni 's name to Jake a number of months ago, 
and he said, "Well, he's somewhere up north." Zamboni was 
a good bookman; he knew his books. But he didn't have that 
strength of character to stick with something. I think he 
was a moody person, psychological in some ways, maybe. But 
a nice person. I do not mean that he was a no-good person. 
He was a good person. I'm sorry I can't think of the name 
of that musician who took part in that exchange. It begins 
with A. Not Albright. I don't know his name. 
GARDNER: We'll try to come back to it. 
EPSTEIN: I'll crack my head. 

GARDNER: A fellow named John Cole had a place in La Jolla 
and was the only San Diego person who was involved in the 
Antiquarians. 

EPSTEIN: It was called the John Cole Bookstore. He and 
his wife ran a shop in La Jolla, It was a nice little shop. 
They had half new books and half old books. He died, un- 
fortunately, too young. I think he worked for Marshall 
Field before he went into the service. I'm racking back 
into my brain the stories I heard. One of the salesmen 
selling for Merriam-Webster , whose name may come up later — 
Russell Goodrich — and he were great friends. They went in 
the army together, and I believe Russell at one time told 

484 



me that John had worked in the book department of Marshall 
Field. And when they got out of the service, Goodrich and 
Cole thought of opening a business together, but they were 
afraid they didn't have the capital, afraid that they 
couldn't support their families. Russ had children who 
were a little older than John's, I think; John may not 
have had any children at that time. At any rate, they 
did whatever they did after the war. Finally, John came 
out here and opened up a business in La Jolla. And he 
did a nice business. La Jolla, you know, has several small 
bookstores--none of them great bookstores, but little shops. 
Each one specializes in some kind of thing. I think his 
wife's name is Margaret [actually Barbara]. She was more 
or less adopted by the big family, the main family there, 
the Scrippses. Mrs. Scripps sort of took her under her 
wing and I think perhaps might even have helped them out. 
I did hear that the Scripps woman helped to educate their 
children; they paid for their college education and whatnot. 
Margaret Cole is still down there. John, as I said, died. 
I used to see him once in a while. I remember we were at 
La Jolla one time, and Russell Goodrich, who was a Merriam- 
Webster salesman for dictionaries, happened to be in town. 
And we met, and Ann and I took them all to dinner. We 
just happened to be at the racquet club there, the tennis 
club — the La Jolla Tennis Club or whatever they call it. 
We were surprised that we got in because it was not too 



485 



open for Jews. V7e heard that later. But we walked in, 
and they had room for us. And we had a very nice apart- 
ment, incidentally, and we stayed there a week. 
GARDNER: Oh, you stayed at the tennis club? 
EPSTEIN: Yes. 

GARDNER: You never signed the register. [laughter] 
EPSTEIN: Oh, I signed the register. [laughter] So I 
know her quite well in the sense that whenever 
I go there I visit her, and whenever she has a problem, 
she even writes me. She, too, is inclined to be over- 
stocked. But she specializes in everything: sewing things 
for women and all the latest fads — macrame and all that. 
She gets the material and sells it along with books. But 
she's horribly overstocked in books. She doesn't return 
what she should return, which is one of the things she 
asked me about. I said, "Look, you're always asking me 
and I'm always telling you, but you never do it. I see 
the same books I told you three years ago to return, and 
you didn't do it. You certainly can't return them now." 
But apparently she's still getting by, so there's no prob- 
lem there. But they were a nice couple. 

GARDNER: The next on my list comes to Los Angeles, and it's 
the Abbey Bookstore. Of course, you've talked about the 
Abbey Bookstore to such a great extent. But at the time 
of this, there was someone named Pinans. 
EPSTEIN: They had the Spanish Bookstore for a while. Then 



486 



they got rid of that and went into the Spanish Bookstore, 
later moved. Yeah. Juan Pinans. He was a very nice per- 
son. His wife was Jewish; they were very much in love. I 
used to see her quite often. She, I think, was a legal 
secretary, if I'm not mistaken. And he ran a small busi- 
ness in Spanish books. There were certain Spanish things 
that we would buy from him. He always tried to keep one 
or two Spanish cookbooks, which we would buy from him at 
wholesale. And there were a few other small items he 
would wholesale. He would import them, and it would be 
easier for us to buy them from him than to send to Spain 
or wherever he got them. They were nice people. But he 
died about seven, eight years ago, and the poor widow, 
she didn't know what to do with his stock. Finally she 
sold the business to somebody else. She was really broken- 
hearted. I don't know what happened to her. She probably 
went back to work. She's a very capable legal secretary; 
they're hard to find. 

GARDNER: Well, the next few on my list I think we've gone 
into pretty well. They're Argonaut, and Bennett and Mar- 
shall, and John Q. Burch. We spoke of all of those. And 
then comes Dale's, which of course we talked about. It 
mentions here that his wife was also active. Dale's wife, 
I assume. Celia Dalinsky? Or is that not his wife. Who 
is Celia Dalinsky? 
EPSTEIN: Celia Dalinsky must have been his sister. Harry's 

487 



wife actually was Irish. 
GARDNER: Oh, his sister, I see. 
EPSTEIN: Because she was not his wife. 
GARDNER: Oh, I see. It says, "Harry Dale and Celia 
Dalinsky, genealogy and local history." Don't know her, 
huh? Never came to the meetings? 

EPSTEIN: Well, I knew Harry's name had been Dalinsky in 
Milwaukee or somewhere he came from. He came from the 
Middle West — Detroit or Milwaukee, I forget which. Yes, 
I remember that a sister of his was involved in some way. 
But I don't think she stayed in the business too long. 
GARDNER: She just wanted a membership in the society? 
EPSTEIN: Yes. Well, I didn't know her too well. I met 
her. 

GARDNER: Then Dawson's, of course, we talked about. Then 
N.A. Kovach. Do you know him? 

EPSTEIN: Oh, Nick Kovach? Of course, I knew Nick Kovach. 
Nick was around when I moved around to Eighth Street. He 
followed me, I think, by two or three years. He used to 
dabble in old books. He'd run across things, sell them to 
other dealers. He was a smart guy. He later opened a store- 
I forget what the name of the store was. I wonder if that 
was the store that Sarah Borden and Manny Borden bought out? 
At any rate, they had a store on Sixth Street for a while. 
He got rid of that; then I remember he got into a partner- 
ship with. ... I'll think of the name. [snaps fingers] 

488 



Carl Haverlin. And they opened a store on Wilshire Boule- 
vard on the second floor of a little nice old building 
there. Rents were cheap there. And they were going to have a 
rare-book business. Nick was a very erratic person at 
that time. In some ways, he's erratic still. I remember 
going up there, buying some things from them and selling 
some things to them. The partnership didn't work out. 
It ended in a great disagreement. The partnership didn't 
last. Nick went on wheeling and dealing — wholesale, re- 
tail, whatever. Finally, he found his way into the busi- 
ness of old periodicals — not single-copy magazines, not 
the old magazine business in that sense, but periodicals 
of runs, literary periodicals or technical periodicals, 
supplying new libraries, replacing for old libraries. In 
the later forties, especially, and the fifties, that be- 
came extremely big business, because there were a tremen- 
dous number of new libraries opening up and a tremendous 
spread in research institutions per se . And they all needed 
back files of especially technical periodicals, historical 
periodicals. And the people who went into that business did 
quite well. Nick used to go around to libraries and buy 
their duplicates or their discards. And for a long time he 
gave the book association a lot of trouble, because when he 
would go in, he would say, "Well, I'll take these, and I 
will give you so much in trade." Well, a library would 
never be able to contact him for what they needed in books. 

489 



So they used to write letters to the association. [laughter] 



490 



TAPE NUMBER: XI, SIDE ONE 
JULY 29, 1974 

GARDNER: As I mentioned when we left off, we had a 
couple of names left on this list of the original Anti- 
quarians, the 1950 list, and just to run through them 
and finish off. We finished off last time with Nick 
Kovach. Is there anything else you want to say about 
him? 

EPSTEIN: I believe I mentioned all the things that I 
wanted to say about Nick. Nick became very successful in 
his way. He's established a fine business and I think 
is pretty happy with his career--considering that when I 
first met him, he was, like we all were, pretty sort of 
starving characters in those days. In that sense, I ad- 
mire his perseverance and building up a sort of a new busi- 
ness. He did a good job. 

GARDNER: The next one on the list that I have is Cambridge 
Bookshop. 

EPSTEIN: The Cambridge — Salzman was his name. He never 
established a large business, but his business has main- 
tained him for all these many years. It's still in exist- 
ence. He dealt more with scholarly books, more literary 
things, and I imagine it's probably part of his plan not 
to have a great big shop — and just control his own working 
hours more, where you can't in a big bookshop. And that's 



491 



why I think some of these smaller dealers perhaps might 
have been smarter than the larger dealers who tie them- 
selves down to a big business, or were tied down with a 
big business and a lot of employees. Some of us made a 
little more money, but in the end, I think they got what 
they wanted and we got what we wanted. And there, too, 
the family relationships sometimes are a deciding factor 
in how far a person wants to go in this business. People 
with several children whom they have to educate have to 
strive to do more business, where a chap like Salzman 
doesn't need it. He leads the kind of life he likes, and 
I think that's very agreeable. He's a good bookman. I 
shouldn't forget to say that, because when one old bookman 
can say about another old bookman, "He's a pretty good book- 
man," then he's gotten his degree. [laughter] 
GARDNER: Next after that is Larry Edmunds, and of course 
we talked about him. We talked about him, and we talked 
about the shop, and we talked about both Milton Luboviski 
and Ida Needham. 
EPSTEIN: Yes. 

GARDNER: Then after that was Lee Freeson. 

EPSTEIN: Lee Freeson is sort of a maverick--as I suppose 
most bookmen are; otherwise they wouldn't be in the old-book 
business. That's the place where mavericks, a great many, 
wind up. It ' s a place where a maverick can operate his own 
style, his own way, and still make a living at it. This is 

492 



a great thing about the old-book business. I don't think 
you could do it in the new-book business because the invest- 
ment, the original investment to start, is so great for a 
new-book business. But in the old-book business a person 
can start with half a dozen books, and sell two of them, 
and go out and buy four more, and in that way begin to be- 
come general or specialized, whichever he wants. 

But Lee is an odd character. It's very difficult to 
describe him. I can describe him only as he relates to 
the book business. He built up a very interesting facet of 
it. Unlike Milton, [who handled] the movies and some theater, 
he specialized solely in the theater and some books relating to 
theater: fashion as it relates to theater, and costume, all 
the related areas — dance. His wife Margo — or common-law wife, 
maybe — was a dancer, an excellent dancer.* But she was very 
political, and if she didn't like the audience in front of her, 
she'd walk off the stage. And poor Lee would go with her and 
have to suffer through all that. By that I don't mean to in- 
dicate that this Margo was in any way unappreciated, but if 
she thought her audience wasn't worth the struggle that 
she was putting through, why, she would just walk off the 
stage. And, of course, it hurt her career immensely. 

Lee suffered terribly during the difficult days be- 
cause there was no market for the type of thing he had to 



' Do not confuse this Margo with the actress Margo who is 
married to Eddie Albert--both of whom were customers of 
ours. — [L.E. ] 

493 



offer at that time, and she was having a very difficult 
time. She was, as I say, political, extreme left, and 
probably Communist party. And I'm not saying so to hurt 
Lee in any sense — his reputation. But I think that both 
were extreme left — at least, if not party members. I have 
no way of knowing positively, but I do know that they both 
were extreme left. That, of course, is not the point of 
our conversation — politics. But he did build up an en- 
viable reputation. The main thing in my eyes is not that 
he built up money or more money. I don't know whether Lee 
has any money. But he built up an enviable reputation as 
an authority in his field — looked upon with a great deal of 
respect for the knowledge he has. And he and I, being more 
or less neighbors, and knowing him from way back in 
the old days downtown, we always had an informally close 
relationship — not that we visited back and forth but we were 
always glad to see each other in spite of our differences of 
opinion on many, many things. I used to fight with him like 
anything about his politics. But still I respected the man, 
and it happened to be my lot to have to help him out on many 
occasions when he needed a few bucks, either for a business 
deal or to get by on for a month or two. And he always came 
back — sometimes a year or two late, sometimes I had to press 
a little bit, but those were the way things were. I just 
met him a couple of weeks ago, and we had quite a talk and 
reminisced a little bit. He's the exact age that I am. His 

494 



main fear now--it's not a fear, it's a knowledge that he's 
going to have to quit within two years, five years, eight 
years, and there's no way he can transmit his knowledge to 
anyone else. It was always a one-man operation. And when 
he dies, it's going to die with him. He always operated 
individually, never employed anybody. He told me of many 
letters he received from universities asking him to come 
and lecture to them. Of course he wouldn't do that about 
the theater, but theater bibliography. And he's not a 
scientific bibliographer, by any means, but he has all 
this knowledge about the important books just because of 
specializing in one narrow field. Of course, the theater 
is not as narrow as, say, shells. I don't know, maybe it's 
narrower; I have no idea. 

GARDNER: And he's going to carry this with him to his grave? 
EPSTEIN: Right. That's the unfortunate thing about so many 
booksellers: they develop over the years a knowledge, a 
specialized knowledge, a specialized memory; and if they're 
very independent, they usually work alone or pretty close 
to alone. They might hire a secretary or so, but that's 
not a book person. They don't train anybody. And probably 
they haven't the patience to train anybody. Not that they're 
secretive; they just don't want to work with anyone. They're 
loners; they want to work alone. That's their choice. And 
unfortunately a great deal of knowledge, research, is lost. 
It goes back into limbo. Somebody' 11 have to rediscover it 

495 



again years later. And he never issued catalogs particu- 
larly. Very often a dealer, a specialized person, will 
spill a lot of bibliographical knowledge in his catalogs, 
little points that he himself has discovered while perus- 
ing a book. I have two books, exactly the same book, on 
my shelf, and every catalog says that they're both first 
editions, that this is the first edition. On examining 
them, I can point to you several different differences, 
where type has been broken--in one issue, perfect type, 
and the other issue, broken — and the brightness of the 
plates. But by the bibliographical standards, they're 
both alike. They're not alike. One of them must have 
come out years before the other. 
GARDNER: VThat is the book? 

EPSTEIN: It's not an important first edition; it's rather 
common. But nobody makes any distinction. And there are 
many areas, if somebody would go through it. . . . I made 
a few notes on it, which were so apparent that even I could 
recognize them without looking for them. I didn't have any 
reason to go through that book. To Have and to Hold , by 
Mary Johnson. It's not a rare book in any sense, and it's 
an important book as a good historical novel. But these 
are the kinds of things that one discovers by chance. And 
these become of bibliographical importance. 

To go back to Lee, he has an exceptionally good spe- 
cialized knowledge. He was just almost in tears telling 

496 



me about the fact that he has no way of putting it all 
down. People have asked him to write a book, and he said, 
"Louis, how can I sit down and write a book? I can't sit 
still long enough to finish a meal." He's that kind of a 
person. And he's having a problem with Margo. She has 
arthritis very badly, and sometimes she can't get out of 
bed. He has to take care of her. But that's another issue. 
That is the story of Lee. He is not always a likable char- 
acter, not always a totally dependable character, but by 
and large he did something. 

GARDNER: The next on the list is Larson's and I think we 
talked about Larson. 

EPSTEIN: Yes, I think we mentioned Larson. He had his 
shop on Hollywood Boulevard west of Western, first block 
west of Western. He's an odd person, and he went into meta- 
physics a lot. He loved his cats and his coffee, and he 
just sat there. And I think probably one of the reasons 
he died at an early age, he probably wasn't active enough 
physically--which is hard to say about a bookman. I could 
never be inactive physically when I was in the old-book busi- 
ness, or even the new-book business. I moved around. But 
he developed a metaphysical business, I think from the ground 
up. I don't think he had any original knowledge of it. And 
he just, little by little, from what the people asked for, 
he learned to sell, and he learned the values by knowing 
what he could get, how high he could push the price up. 

497 



And of course that makes value: how much is a customer 
willing to pay for a rare book? Not all his things were 
rare, but they were good secondhand things. It was not 
a used-book shop in the classic sense, where they had a 
good variety of stock in many subjects. It was run pretty 
messy. And his widow [Louise Larson] ran it for several 
years. I was much surprised that she was able to carry it 
on, but she kept plugging at it. You had to admire her. 
She used to come to see me quite often and buy things from 
us occasionally. We would buy from her occasionally, and 
she had great respect for me. She would ask me questions 
on what she should do as a matter of policy, or her busi- 
ness, and I always tried to be very helpful. And she ap- 
preciated that. I think the book people thought that I 
had a great deal more wisdom than I really have. [laughter] 
GARDNER: After that one, I have Dr. Kurt Melander. 
EPSTEIN: Dr. Kurt Melander. He was a refugee. He's still 
around, although I haven't seen him in a number of years. 
A refugee from Germany, I think he went to South America 
before he came to North America, the United States. And he 
learned the Spanish language there. Or he may even have 
lived in Spain; I don't know. My impression is that he may 
have told me this: that he went to South America when they 
had to run into whatever corridor was open. At any rate, he 
learned Spanish fairly well. And having a doctorate to begin 
with and a well-rounded backgroiond of knowledge, he began 

498 



to work with Spanish books. There was a field in which 
the dealers here knew little about, he knew something about. 
And he began to pick up whatever Spanish things there were 
aroiond, and visited libraries, and built up a small busi- 
ness, which maintained him, of selling Spanish books. And 
he would buy also English books, too, but primarily he went 
in for Spanish literature, which he would sell to libraries — 
catalog, or by letter — and maintained himself not badly. 
He's a very nice, quiet person. He paid me a very fine 
compliment on the last occasion I saw him. I bumped into 
him at the Pickwick, oh, just before I retired. And we got 
to talking. When we had old books he was there at least 
once or twice a week. And we got to talking about a number 
of things and the fact that we had known each other for at 
least twenty-some-odd years, and he paid me a compliment. 
He said, "You know, I watched you progress from way back 
in a small bookstore to a business far beyond what you 
probably yourself had ever anticipated, and the way you 
ran it and the success of it." He said he always had 
great admiration for me in the way I treated him and the 
way I maintained my business, and he said he wanted to 
tell me that. And two days later I got a little card from 
him saying how much he enjoyed knowing me. I think he works 
out somewhere in the Valley now. I remember one time I 
visited him in North Orange Grove. [tape stopped] 
GARDNER: Okay, is that it on him? Well, Pickwick is 

499 



next, and I think we've talked about Pickwick. Then 
comes F.N. Bassett. Do you know F.N. Bassett? 
EPSTEIN: V7ell, Bassett was what I would call a spe- 
cialist dealer, and his specialty was nature books, in 
a very narrow field. There again is an illustration of 
what a person can do. At one time it was as a hobby. I 
don't know what his profession was, whether he was a teach- 
er or what, but he just decided that he would expand on it 
and make it his business. And he did. I didn't know too 
much about him personally. We used to sell him things in 
his field from the old-book department. Whenever we'd 
get something, he'd buy from us. And there again, with 
every specialist with whom we came into contact, we learned 
something from them. I always did, and I think that's 
where I picked up the knowledge in these various fields 
that a general bookman carries around with him. 
GARDNER: Roman Novins is next. 

EPSTEIN: Roman Novins: he had a small, a very small busi- 
ness, but he dropped out of it after about two or three years. 
A very nice person. I don't know too much about him. He 
did, one day, bring me two framed pictures of Pickwick char- 
acters--the characters out of [ The ] Pickwick [ Papers ] — and 
I still have 'em. And I said, "I'll buy these from you." 
"No," he said, "I want you to have them; this is with my 
compliments." That's the kind of a guy he was. A very 
nice guy. But there must have been some little bit of 

500 



money behind the family, because the way they were 
living certainly was not from any thing he could make 
as a beginner in the book business. His wife may have 
had inherited money, or--I don't know. But he didn't 
last too long in it. 

GARDNER: Then next we have Mel Royer, whom we talked about. 
EPSTEIN: Yes, we talked about Mel. 

GARDNER: And Zeitlin and Ver Brugge, which we talked about 
at length. 

EPSTEIN: Did I mention about Mel that the Japanese came and 
bought all his entire stock? 
GARDNER: No, I don't think so. 

EPSTEIN: Yes. You know, I think maybe we ought to mention 
that. It's an interesting episode, and it's historical. 
Mel, you know, had been not too well in the last number 
of years. Mel must be close to eighty now, if he isn't 
past eighty, because when I was a beginner, I looked upon 
him as a mature person — me being all of twenty-four, begin- 
ning in Los Angeles. And he was a customer; and, as I 
mentioned before, he already was established with a firm — 
I think in the accounting department, or whatever. And 
the last number of years, he had been trying to sell his 
business, because it became more and more difficult for 
him to operate it. He had one possible sale, where he 
actually went to take inventory; and for one reason or 
another, the sale fell through. I don't believe the 

501 



people who were wanting to buy it had any idea that the 
inventory would run to that amount of money. And we in 
the trade heard about it. Even though I wasn't in the 
trade at the time, I still maintained my contacts, you 
might say. Then one day I heard that Mel sold his entire 
stock--lock, stock, and barrel — to a Japanese group who 
came over, and came in, and packed everything that was in 
the shop--every scrap of paper, everything. Someday I'm 
going to run across Mel and get the background of it, be- 
cause it's a very unusual type of deal. They just packed 
up everything and shipped it to Japan. Now whether they 
were Japanese dealers, or whether it was the Japanese 
government, or to give to a university, or whatever, I 
don't know. But that's what happened to Mel's stock. It's 
probably somewhere in Japan, maybe the University of Osaka, 
or somewhere like that. Eventually it'll have to wind up 
in a university. It was too varied and too large for an 
individual, unless somebody makes an American art-book 
store out of it. 

GARDNER: Well, it's possible, in Tokyo. Also, we talked 
about Phil Brown, and we talked about the Yales. I think 
perhaps now we could insert something about the founding 
of the organization, how it happened to come together, and 
your own participation in it. 

EPSTEIN: Well, like so many organizations, difficulties 
come up which affect all of us, everyone in the trade. 

502 



It was founded because there was a need. The need was 
created by some problem that came up. And we were having 
problems with two things: the main problem we were hav- 
ing was that from time to time there would be — I wouldn't 
say police harassment but the police would discover that 
somebody had stolen a book somewhere and sold it to a 
dealer. Were we not bound by the same laws as secondhand- 
furniture dealers, or pawn shops, or things like that? Now 
this goes back; the same things come up from the earliest 
days. Most of the time we were always able to beat the 
police back, in the sense that, "Look, this is an isolated 
instance. You never have any trouble with us, and we police 
ourselves to a certain degree. There might be some of us 
who would buy books which he knew might have been stolen. 
But for the most part, none of us are looking for trouble." 
And the second thing, the other thing, is that whenever 
anyone discovered a book in a used-book shop which had 
been stolen from somebody, they were always given that 
book back, or they were given it back for the price that 
the dealer paid. This was a haphazard arrangement, but 
it worked, in my opinion, much better than rules and regu- 
lations by the policemen had worked. It caused less harm 
and less fuss. [lawnmower noise; tape stopped] So with 
all this trouble we were having from time to time, there 
was one particular period where they really started getting 
tough. [tape stopped] There's one spot there where they 

503 



really became tough with us, and they passed a very strict 
law that we must report every book we buy and have to get 
the signature and identification of the seller, whether 
it's one book or a thousand books, whether we bought it 
in the store or we bought it at the person's home. This 
was almost an impossible task. If you bought a library 
of several hundred books, you'd have to hire a person to 
catalog them. 

So we got around, and we organized a group of us, and 
we said, "Look, we've got to have a group that'll get to- 
gether, and maybe hire an attorney, and fight this thing." 
[tape stopped] So we did just that, and that's the way 
our organization was born, or revived. The people who 
were looked upon in those days in the trade were Jake, 
Louis Epstein, Dawsons , Charlie Yale. Holmes never partic- 
ipated in anything, although he probably was one of the 
largest dealers here. And [with] many of the smaller ones 
around the city, we got together and organized this group. 
That's the way it was. And we took turns being the presi- 
dent of it. We used to meet informally. Well, like all 
these drives, the thing finally quieted down. We tried to 
hire an attorney to fight city hall, but attorneys who 
fight city hall are extremely expensive. We spent about 
$500 in cash, which was a lot of money for our group, but 
he did us very little good. I think our own conduct prob- 
ably helped us more than whatever the attorney did. We got 

504 



the law modified a little bit. The law is probably still 
on the books, but it's never been enforced. [tape stopped] 
GARDNER: Well, my next question would be your own involve- 
ment. You were one of the first presidents, if not the 
first. 

EPSTEIN: Yes, I was one of the first. I think Charlie 
Yale, if I'm not mistaken, was the first. There isn't 
much to say, you know, about being president of that. It 
was a small group; we did what we had to do. Most of our 
meetings we discussed a minimum of business and a maximum 
of gossip. Booksellers are a notoriously gossipy group. 
They can't keep a secret — in no way. Almost every year 
we had a dinner. And our meetings were held at our homes, 
as a rule. I think we had several meetings up at the other 
house on North Curson. 

After one of the meetings--I may have mentioned, in 
speaking about Harry Lawyer--word got around (he later 
threw it up to me) that I lived in a mansion. That's the 
North Curson house. It's far from that. 

But [it was] a very loose organization. We really 
didn't have too many problems to settle. I think what it 
eventually evolved into, when they got into the national 
group, the AABA--they became more exclusive. We would take 
anyone in the trade who wanted to join. As a matter of fact, 
we dug them out to have them join us. The present group, 
which is part of the international — they have certain 

505 



standards. You have had to be in the business x number 
of years. 

GARDNER: Is that so? 

EPSTEIN: I don't know what their standards are now, 
but they vote you in or out. You have to be of good 
character. We never questioned a guy's character, 
[laughter] 

GARDNER: From some of the stories you've told me, that 
would have limited the membership quite a bit. [laughter] 
EPSTEIN: If anyone had any reason to blackball you, which 
I think is totally illegal in the trade organization — I'm 
not necessarily going to express my opinion. This is 
quite a different organization now. I think it only has 
those who are specialists and real rare-book dealers. I 
don't think it has the total number of people, of used-book 
sellers, in the area in proportion to the total nxomber of 
booksellers there were. We had a greater proportion of 
the members of the booksellers than the proportion they 
have now. But I think the present group intentionally 
wants it to be so. But the chap who has just an average 
secondhand-book store — I don't really think they want 
him in the organization. Which, I think, is a mistake, 
because two things happen: There's a certain amount of 
contact that's lost between the two, and the one who has 
what I term an ordinary used-book store — that is, not be- 
ing a specialty shop; the chap who buys and sells almost 

506 



any kind of book--he has less chance to learn from the 
other people if he doesn't belong to their group. Dis- 
cussion always takes place at every meeting, informally. 
They ask each other questions, and they hear of a book that 
somebody said was rare. I didn't know it was rare, and I 
immediately perked up my ear. And I learned that that was 
a rare book instead of a common book, or it was worth x 
number of dollars instead of two, three dollars. And that 
is a means of learning the book business, the constant 
mingling of these people in the trade. 

This is an aside from your question. They have so 
many tools now of learning values which we never had in 
our day. They have more active reporting in the trade 
papers, where they give you resxames of auction sales. 
And they have something new that's come up within the 
last eight, ten years. It's a set of books; the compiler 
of it goes through all the catalogs issued by dealers. 
When I say all of them, I'm positive it can't possibly be 
all, but a great many catalogs issued by various dealers 
across the country. And he gathers that information, and 
they list it in those books. And from time to time, they 
bring them up to date. Now, a lot of that information is 
published regularly, has been, in American Book Prices 
Current , over the years. But the American Book Prices 
Current did not list as many books as individual catalogers 
did. The American Book Prices Current only listed those for 

507 



auction. So they have a tool of knowledge for getting the 
values quickly. 

GARDNER: What is that? What is that book? 
EPSTEIN: I don't exactly know the name of it, but I think 
your library probably has it. 
GARDNER: Oh, I'm sure, yes. 

EPSTEIN: And you might get it, or you might call one of 
the dealers and stop in and look at it. I've never used 
it; I've never looked into it. But I know that it exists. 
I've seen advertisements for it, and I've seen it on some 
dealers' shelves. So in that respect, their knowledge 
about values is greater. But the harmful thing is that 
a house that issues a catalog is usually aimed at the 
library market, and the library market will pay more for 
things that they want than the average person walking in 
off the street. So I found this to be true, and I will 
go into some used-book stores, on some days when I run 
across them, and do a little browsing. They all will 
have those books marked up at the highest possible value. 
And they sit there, month after month after month. And 
if you question them about it: "Oh, well, that's what it 
has to bring in the "--whatever the name of the book is — the 
trade prices. And I think in that respect, it lessens the 
turnover of stock for the merchant. The person who doesn't 
issue catalogs is riding on the back of those who do issue 
catalogs. But I think they're making a mistake. I think 

508 



they should maybe price them proportionately, but not 
exactly. 

Anyway, my reasons for questioning the wisdom of 
not allowing all the booksellers in or asking them to 
join: I question that as being totally good for the book 
trade. It may be good for some of those participants who 
are rare-book dealers. They get together and do the same 
things we used to do — talk about books, and bring in a 
person who's knowledgeable of books who'd occasionally 
give us a lecture, in addition to having our business 
meeting. I think they should try to teach more people, 
rather than restrict the numbers they can teach or trade 
with. In my way of thinking it has a certain amount of 
selfishness put into it. They have control of the organi- 
zation, and they do good things. They encourage business 
from librarians, because librarians are their chief cus- 
tomers now — it wasn't so in the early days. Libraries 
didn't have as much money, and there weren't as many of 
them. Especially college libraries. And the rare-book 
libraries — a lot of them have been established over the 
years by foundations. The college libraries, university 
libraries, and foundations are probably the chief buyers 
of rare books. And they're very thoroughly cultivated by 
the rare-book dealers — which is proper. Every other in- 
dustry tries to cultivate relationships with their customers 
to increase business. 

509 



At any rate, the organization just kept on. It would 
quiet down. Then something else would come up, and we'd 
get excited and boom up again. It had its ups and downs. 
But it was a great place to have a little fun, do a little 
bit of drinking. At our annual dinners, a lot of the boys 
would like to show off their prosperity. It was a nice 
group. And practically every person we mentioned of the 
old-timers has been a president of it at one time or another. 
GARDNER: It had a turnover? 

EPSTEIN: Yes, we encouraged the turnover, because the amount 
of actual business we transacted for the organization was 
minimal. We paid our dues, and we had a little fun. And 
a problem would come up. It was usually the president's 
job — at least when I was president— to settle differences 
between dealers: transactions where one felt that he 
wasn't being paid, or paid on time, or had been taken 
advantage of by someone else. A couple of dealers, I 
had a great deal of correspondence with libraries about: 
they felt that the libraries were promised certain deliver- 
ies of books which never came through. But that's the 
nature of people, and they're in the book business, same 
as everywhere else. 

GARDNER: When did your own participation end? 
EPSTEIN: Frankly, I made one serious error: I dropped 
out of the organization when we went out of the old-book 
business. But my participation, before that even, wasn't 



510 



active participation. I would go to the dinners, but I 
rarely attended the other meetings. My lack of partici- 
pation increased as my new-book business increased--and 
demands on my time, too. I dropped out, and I remember 
Glen Dawson calling me and saying, "Why did you drop out, 
Louis? We need you in the organization." I said I felt 
that I was no longer of any use because I was no longer 
in the old-book business. Well, he was right; I should 
not have dropped out. And as a matter of fact, after I 
retired, I asked to be reinstated--which I was, but only 
on one of the rare exceptions. I think I'm the only one 
in the whole country who is not an active dealer who was 
reinstated after having dropped out. There would have 
been no question of my continuing to be a member had I 
retired from the old-book business. 
GARDNER: Because of your longevity. 

EPSTEIN: But here I dropped out before my career was 
ended in the book business. And I wrote them. I said, 
"You can't do that to me ; I'm one of the founding members." 
So they made the exception, and now I'm an associate mem- 
ber. I don't have any voting rights, but I can go to their 
organizational meeting. And I've attended a few meetings. 
But in thinking back, I realize that Glen was right. I 
should not have dropped out because I'd been such an active 
participant in it. But now everybody's happy I'm back in. 
GARDNER: Even though you can't vote. One of the big 

511 



activities of the local chapter is the book fairs. Do 
you participate in this? 

EPSTEIN: Well, the book fairs are relatively recent, 
you know. They didn't have those in our day. 
GARDNER: Oh, I see. 

EPSTEIN: Fairs of all kinds have become more common. 
They have these international book fairs now for rare-book 
dealers, and I think from that the idea evolved that we 
should have one in the city. They now have them in New 
York; they have them in London; they had one in Toronto, 
Canada, just early this spring, I think, or sometime this 
spring. So this is relatively new, I think--what, seven, 
eight years? 

GARDNER: Oh, is that all it is? 

EPSTEIN: Maybe a couple of more years. And they've been 
successful. They're planning one, I think, for sometime 
in October. 

GARDNER: One of the early activities when you were there 
was an auction. Do you recall that auction at all? 
EPSTEIN: I don't recall any auction. Oh, yes, yes. It 
was after my time — where each bookseller brought in some- 
thing to raise a few dollars for the organization. Yes. 
I did not participate in that, because by that time, I 
was out of the picture. 

GARDNER: There are just a few minutes on the tape, so to 
wrap it up I'll just ask you about some of the people who 

512 



are in it now who weren't before, and who we haven't 
discussed. Cherokee is one that I'd like to talk about 
because it's one of your neighbors. 

EPSTEIN: Cherokee is Jack Blum, of course. Incidentally, 
the Cherokee is where Lee Freeson makes his headquarters. 
I don't know if he still has, but he had a little bit of 
an office there, and he kept a little bit of a stock there. 
But Jack Blum started in, oh, I would say in the fifties, 
with a little shop on Cherokee Avenue just south of Holly- 
wood Boulevard. And he was specializing in Hollywood 
material — pictures of stars and anything related to the 
movies and movie magazines and whatnot. There's always 
a market for these movie collectors. I never did fully 
understand, and I don't to this day. I can't see that 
many of them being scholars and why they want these pic- 
tures, but for one reason or another, they do. Jack stuck 
with it and learned more and more. He finally had to give 
up his store on Cherokee, and he moved over to Hollywood 
Boulevard. He now has a very well established business. 
His sons are now taking over. And he has gone into the 
business with variety, enlarged the scope of his business. 
He has a lot of very fine sets. His sons started in with 
the comic-book business, and they developed that and a 
lot of other areas. He operates a little bit differently 
than any other bookseller I know of, where he gives each 
one of his people a certain specialty that they develop. 

513 



And now he has [Clark] Casey in the Americana department; 
and he has his sons, as I say, in the movie business 
and one in the other business; and he himself takes care 
of sets and things like that. All his buying has always 
been done for him by his employees. He himself has sat 
in the back of the picture. But it apparently worked out 
quite successfully; he seems to be doing well. Jack is 
a very nice person. I say that because I've involved him 
in other things where only a nice person would be involved 
in. 

GARDNER: Such as? 

EPSTEIN: Like the United Jewish Welfare Fund. Even in the 
days when things weren't very good with him, he always 
managed to make a contribution. I could mention some 
names of other Jewish booksellers, and I hope that the 
record doesn't indicate that I'm overinvolved with Jewish 
affairs because I think Jewish affairs need some intense 
involvement since the Hitler days, and they're still going 
on in the state of Israel today. And I always felt that 
it was my duty as a Jew--I always felt that it was the 
same duty of the other people who were Jews — and I tried 
to involve the Jewish booksellers in addition to many other 
people, and I'm happy to say I was very successful. 



514 



TAPE NUMBER: XI, SIDE TWO 
JULY 29, 1974 

GARDNER: You want to finish the sentence? 
EPSTEIN: As I say, I was happy to say I was successful 
in involving some--and totally unsuccessful in involving 
some other — Jewish booksellers (whom I will not name) . 
I'm particularly proud of the fact--and I think this 
should not be taken amiss by anybody if they happen to 
hear what I'm saying--that I was able to originally get 
contributions, say, from a chap like Jake Zeitlin, when 
he was not as affluent as he is today. Now his contribu- 
tions run into sizable sums. Also Jack Blum, when he was 
having a very difficult time, he gave me at least some- 
thing, to at least express his involvement, his duties, 
his duty as a person of a particular group that needed 
help. My feeling about it has always been, "Look, I am 
part of that group. I don't care where I live, and I 
don't care what I do . If I were in the circumstances they 
were in and it was only because they were of that group 
that they were attacked, I might have been attacked — and 
undoubtedly would have been attacked. And I might have 
suffered the fate that the others have suffered, so it's 
a part of my duty to help those to escape who could escape, 
and to help them get a foothold somewhere where they can 
earn their own existence and become persons again." But 



515 



some people don't want to be involved in anything--which 
applies to local charities and local civic affairs, too. 
One does not exclude the other. It happens to be the 
lot of the Jewish group in our comiriunity to be involved 
in both. You do not — by no means — neglect the local 
affairs, local charities. I contribute to them, too, and 
I think everyone who contributes to the welfare organiza- 
tions I'm talking about is the same type of person who 
will contribute to all charities, all kinds of organiza- 
tions that need help in doing a worthwhile task. It's 
my philosophy. I don't know whether it's because of it; 
maybe that would help create me, help create my outlook 
on life that attracted the people to my place of business. 
I don't know. I have theories about it--they're surmises; 
I would call them theories. And, you know, "bread upon 
the waters" sort of thing, but not exactly in that phrase. 
We gave away a lot of money, and we're still giving away 
a lot of money, but there seems to be money coming back 
to us. And we had to struggle to get it; and if we didn't 
have it, obviously, we wouldn't have given so much away. 
But I'm very thankful I was able to involve people, to 
convince them, to show them that this is the right thing 
for them to do. 

Take a man like Milton Luboviski. He's of Jewish back- 
ground — raised perhaps. It might have even been an Ortho- 
dox Jewish family; I don't know that much about his family 

516 



background. But from the first time, Milton--his original 
contribution was sort of an offhand thing: "Okay, Louis. 
You asked me for it; I'll give it to you." I said, "Milton, 
don't give me a nickel. I don't need it. But I want you 
to feel that you're giving something to help somebody who 
cannot help himself simply because he is part of our group-- 
your group and my group." If it was a Catholic group who 
was being persecuted, or as the Armenians were by the Turks. 
Well, the Armenians lost a million and a half people. For 
no reason. And over the years, he got the idea better, and 
his contribution now is not a great deal of money, but it's 
meaningful. And what's more important to me is it's a 
contribution with something behind it, not just something 
for Louis Epstein because I asked for it. And by the same 
token, some of the contributions I originally got simply 
because I^ asked for it. I'm sure that if somebody else 
had come in. . . . They knew me; they had a certain re- 
spect for me, which enabled me to talk to them. I had a 
personal basis on which to talk to them that perhaps no- 
body else could talk to them on. Like Milton, for instance — 
I'm almost positive that had somebody else gone to see 
Milton that first time, I don't think they would have 
gotten it. 

This is totally aside from the book business, but 
it's an aside to show that book dealers should be — and 
are, some of them — in activities which are beyond the book 

517 



business itself. And I'm sure if you talk to Jake or 
some of the others, they will find areas in which they 
participate. Jake does a lot of things for libraries. 
Well, I do a few things for libraries, too. Politically, 
Jake is involved. Well, I am involved politically, too. 
The reason I mention Jake so often is because I think Jake 
is a very broad-minded person and a very significant per- 
son, with whom I've been associated so many years, and 
whom I respect so much. I use him as an example, too, 
of how a man has climbed way above his adversities at 
the beginning, both his family adversities and his finan- 
cial adversities. And I think in that respect, I have a 
certain judgment of Jake which is perhaps beyond that of 
others in the trade whom I might mention--which I certainly 
won't. He's a bigger man. I don't know how to put it. 
His reputation should be much greater beyond that of his 
reputation in the book trade alone. And I think it is. 
I think he has been involved. I think Glen Dawson is de- 
serving of a great deal of credit, because beyond his 
participation in everything pertaining to the book busi- 
ness, he's also involved with many things: involved in 
church, involved with libraries, involved in many things 
pertaining to the reading and spreading of knowledge. A 
good churchman. And he raises a nice family, participates, 
and he does other things which are not particularly related 
to books which are worthwhile. I think somewhere along the 

518 



line, of course, [the fact of] this being a story of books 
should not preclude people being cited for things other 
than their particular business. 

GARDNER: Well, the other one that's on the new list that 
wasn't on the old is Heritage Book Shop. 

EPSTEIN: Heritage, I know very little of their background. 
They opened in the same block as the Pickwick, and I went 
in to see them--a couple of very bright youngsters, the 
Weinstein brothers [Louis and Ben]. And apparently they've 
learned their business very well, and they're, from what I 
hear, extremely successful. I don't know how they started, 
where their finances came from, but to me it appears that 
they must have brought a great deal of finances into the 
book business when they came in because of the rapidity 
of their growth in certain areas which involved a lot of 
money. In my mind that is beyond the capability of what 
they might have earned in the relatively short time they 
were in business. Now, I'm not saying that in any critical 
sense whatever. That's my opinion. Someone else may know 
more about them than I . 

GARDNER: How long have they been at it? 
EPSTEIN: Well, let's see, two, four, six . . . they've 
been on the Boulevard close to about eight years now, I 
think. Maybe a trifle longer. Time just telescopes with 
me. But I really do know very little about them. There's 
another brother who has a bookstore in Hollywood. Book City, 

519 



I think, is owned by Jerry Weinstein, who's a brother. 
And I understand there's a brother in Long Beach who has 
a bookstore, used books. The brother from Long Beach now 
runs The Book Treasury of 6707 Hollywood Boulevard--the 
former location of Heritage. So they're very much inte- 
grated in the book business. [tape stopped] 

You ask me about Theodore Front. He is in the [busi- 
ness of] books about music. He used to come to the Pick- 
wick to buy books on music or whatever other things he 
might need, and he was more or less of a collector. And 
then he decided he would like to go into the thing full 
time. As a collector, he probably sold things now and 
again. And he came to me and said what did I think of 
him going into the music-book business? I knew him as a 
man who knew music books. And I said, "I think it's a 
very good field." He said, well, he'd been doing a little 
business in his home, in the off-hours and all that, but 
he wanted to quit whatever he was doing and go in full 
time. And I said, "If you've got the idea, you'll even- 
tually worry yourself all about it for a long time. And 
I think you can make a go of it. There are a few people 
in the country who are doing it, and the market for music 
in Southern California is tremendous. You know your books 
and you know your business. Go ahead." Sure enough. "Well," 
he said, "by golly, I think now that you've said these things 
to me, you've pointed out the areas in which I could serve." 

520 



I mean, it was a general discussion, a little bit of 
general ideas how to go about it. He knew a lot about 
it already--where to buy music, where to sell music he 
bought, and he knew all the music people so the doors 
would be open to him. I said, "I'm sure you could make 
it." And I understand he's doing quite nicely. 

I see they have a member here on the list by the 
name of Marian L. Gore. "Cookery, wine, hotels, inns, 
coffee, tea, gardening, herbs, mushrooms." Marian Gore, 
Mrs. Gore, was an old customer of ours. Her husband had 
a graphics business in Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard. 
And the family were customers of ours. One day we heard 
that there was a divorce coming up. They were separated. 
And it eventually happened. And Mrs. Gore kept coming in, 
and he kept coming in, too. We got two accounts instead 
of one. But then she told me she wanted to start into 
the book business. She wanted to open a new-book store. 
And I talked her out of it. For two reasons: she told 
me the amount of money she would have available, and I 
didn't think that was enough to start a store, and it 
would be risking all that she had, which was a risk that 
was too great for her to take. And she had no particular 
background in running a business, either — let alone r\anning 
a bookstore business. And I explained it to her. I told 
her how much she would have to have for initial stock and 



521 



how much rent she would have to pay. We sat down, and we 
went over the skeletal figures. And she decided it was 
not for her. Well, it was my surprise that a few years 
later, I found out that she went into this old-book busi- 
ness. She moved to San Gabriel and went into this busi- 
ness little by little, and apparently picked up these books 
and sold them to people she knew who were interested in 
the subject, and gradually built up--I don't think it's 
a big business but it's enough of a business, apparently, 
to help earn her living. It may support her entirely; I 
don't know. I bumped into her at a Friends of the UCLA 
Library dinner. And that was the first I had heard of it. 
And she said she'd issued catalogs. I said, "Well, why 
didn't you send me some?" She said she'd send them to 
me. A very interesting catalog. So now, occasionally, 
I pick up something in her field and I'll write to her 
about it. But there again, it proves the theory that if 
a person has a specialized knowledge or special interest, 
he can gradually build a book business into it. Mrs. Gore 
again proves that case. 

Doris Harris Autographs: she was president of the 
group for a while. I don't know her too well, but she 
seems to be a very capable person. 

And [G.F.] Hollingsworth, who is a Western Americana 
dealer in Manhattan Beach, is an excellent bookman. We 
used to sell him a lot when we had old books. He used to 

522 



buy a lot of remainders from us and keep them a year or 
two until the remainder supply would be exhausted, and 
then he would put them in his catalog at close to the 
original price — which is a common practice. I'm not tak- 
ing away from his reputation. It's a common practice, and 
I think it's a worthwhile practice because he saves a cer- 
tain number of books for collectors who'll come later and 
want the book. And many remainders in later years become 
quite scarce. A remainder sometimes is an excellent book of 
which there weren't enough buyers for the original edition. 
It has nothing to do with the quality of the book. And very 
often when the supply is gone, they become extremely scarce. 
I myself have paid three times the price of what I could 
have bought it as a remainder at. 

The International Bookfinders is Dick Mohr — Richard 
Mohr. There again is an example of a person who is in one 
kind of a business and built up a sideline which eventually 
proved greater than his original business. He was in the 
advertising business in some area. And he went into a 
search service operation, but he advertised his services 
in certain areas which brought him a lot of excellent ac- 
counts. And now he's really a very knowledgeable bookman 
and apparently does a very fine business. His wife is in- 
volved; his son was involved until he went off to college. 
And I think that's his principal business now. I think he's 
doing extremely well. 

523 



There are a number of people on the list now, on 
the list of members here, who I know very little about, 
or absolutely nothing. I don't know Carolyn Kaplan; I 
may have met her. I don't know Caler publications; I don't 
know [Laurence] McGilvery. We talked about Kurt Schwarz, 
and I think we've covered all the old-book men about whom 
I can have any knowledge, about whom I have any knowledge. 
GARDNER: The next section, then, that we'll cover will 
be the different bookmen, the book salesmen who've come 
in and out of Pickwick. 

EPSTEIN: Well, they now like to be called book publisher's 
representatives. 

GARDNER: Publisher's representatives, okay. 

EPSTEIN: They feel they're one cut above the drummer. The 
new-book business, of course, has no relation to the old- 
book business. But in the new-book business, a publisher's 
representative or salesman — whatever you wish to call him — 
is a very important person. At least, they were to me. They 
bring you news of the new books of their own particular field, 
their own particular house; and then they bring you what's 
happening in the industry, which way the trends of books 
are going, which publishers are having good seasons or bad. 
They talk about more — not more about other people's lines 
than their own, but they constantly have to bring you news 
to compare what they're selling with what the house is 
selling — why their book of fiction is a better book of 

524 



fiction than, say, Doubleday's. And then, especially the 
major houses like Random House; Doubleday; Little, Brown; 
Houghton Mifflin; Macmillan; Morrow; and McKay, now--they 
had varying degrees of successes from season to season. 
Each year they're competitive for the bookseller's dollar. 
And they have to tell you why we have to buy their books 
rather than their competitor's books; so, in a degree, they 
have to know what their competitor is doing. And they pro- 
vide us with a great deal of knowledge, and we have to learn 
how to accept that knowledge--which salesman's judgment to 
respect, and which house's judgment to respect. Viking is 
a house that requires a lot of attention. [So is] Knopf. 

So we had to learn to listen to the salesmen, to read 
the salesmen, you might say. We'd have to know which one 
puffs more than the other, which one is likely to exaggerate, 
which one is carried away by what his sales manager told 
him or what his editors told him. And over the years you 
get to know them. You get to know which are the men whose 
information is totally reliable. And that depends, of 
course, a great deal on the house he's working for. Is 
the house totally reliable in giving honest information? 
Rather than some houses, who we know are always puffing 
1,000 percent. There are houses that do that. They don't 
know how to judge their own product. Everything they pro- 
duce is going to be the best seller, and they expect us to 
buy accordingly — which, of course, we can't and we don't. So 

525 



in this respect, the salesman is a great teacher. To me, 
they were tremendous teachers, because I had never bought 
new books. I had never worked in old books until I started 
the store. Then I had to start over again to learn another 
new business, really. The two businesses are very much 
unlike, although I would tell everyone starting in — if they 
asked me, that is--that if they spent two or three years in 
the old-book business and then went into the new-book busi- 
ness, they would have a much broader scope of the new-book 
business, because in the old-book business we handled a 
broader scope of knowledge. We're not confined to those 
things that come out today, with a minimum of classic 
material that every new-book store handles. 

At any rate, to me at least, the book publisher's 
representatives were extremely important because of my 
ignorance to begin with and the scope of knowledge that 
they brought to me. And there were some outstanding men 
who were in the field when I started who had almost national 
reputations as knowledgeable and excellent salesmen. There 
were two or three of them who were extremely beneficial for 
me to know and for me to have been called on by them. 

One of them,, particularly, was one of the men whom 
I knew before I went into the old-book business, James 
D. Blake. He represented Harper's. The first time I 
ever saw his books, I had to go to the hotel. In the old 



526 



days (this was in the 1920s and before) , the book sales- 
man would bring a trunkful of books, take them to the 
hotel, and invite his clients to come up to a series of 
appointments. And then they would show them the books 
and tell them what there is. Of course, that is not be- 
ing done now. And I remember one time, even before I 
bought new books particularly to any extent, I was in- 
vited to his suite. And I, first time, saw a publisher's 
layout. I knew him before we opened in Hollywood, but 
when we opened in Hollywood and began to buy a few new 
books, he would call on us, sell us a few. Then when we 
announced that we had to go into the new-book field, and 
were going to really put in a stock of new books, then he 
said, "Louis, I have to spend a whole day with you going 
over the Harper line." In those days Harper had a very 
big line, probably larger than they have today — of classics 
and basic books on many, many subjects. I think their list 
is much more narrow today than it was then. I said, "Jim, 
I don't need a whole day of your time." I said, "I'm not 
going to buy that many books." He said, "I know you're not 
going to buy that many books. But if you're going to start 
buying new books, you have to be knowledgeable of what is 
available, and Harper is one of the broadest lists in the 
business." And then he named two or three other publishers; 
he said that "you must become acquainted with their whole 
list." I said, "Okay." I mean, he was a good deal older 

527 



than I was, and I respected him. And he said, "Well, 
I'll come in, and we'll break for lunch, and then. ..." 
And sure enough, he came in, and he went over every book 
on the Harper list, whether it was relevant to my busi- 
ness or not. He said, "I'm going to tell you about every 
one of these books in the list. " And he went down every 
book in the Harper list, and the catalog was about an inch 
and a quarter thick. Well, he had my mind reeling in many 
areas. But there were certain books about which he said, 
"Louis, now this book you've got to have." He didn't try 
to sell me everything--by no means. But he said, "I want 
you to know they're available in case somebody asks you 
for them." He said, "Let it sink in a little bit." And 
it was a great thing. And all that little bit of sinking 
in, somewhere in your consciousness you became aware of it. 
I think a bookman's mind is either trained for that or in- 
herited for that. And if he's got that, he's really got 
something. And at that time, my mind was much more accurate 
than it is now. 

But we went over every book. And there were certain 
books he'd tell me, "You've got to have this. You'll sell 
this." And occasionally we would come across a book, and 
he said, "Louis, this book you'll never sell, but you've 
got to carry it in your store." "Why? Jim, why would I 
need a book that I won't sell?" He said, "It'll make your 
store stand out. People will be impressed with it." And he 

528 



said, "You'll sell one occasionally. You'll sell enough 
in a year. You may sell only one in a year, but then you 
may be discouraged about handling it." And for those days, 
it would be a rather high-priced book. And by golly, he 
was absolutely right. He had an uncanny knowledge; he 
had specialized knowledge of every book in the store. 
There was a book on music of some kind; I forget the 
title of it. [There were] two or three of them that 
he picked out--a book of English grammar. There are 
thousands of English grammars for less money than he 
had, but his grammar was a particularly good one. It 
was much more expensive than the others, but it was a 
book. . . . And he taught me that a bookstore must be 
broad in scope. I say, "He taught me." He encouraged me 
to follow the principle. In the old-book business, in the 
general old-book store, you learn that the broader the 
scope, the better the business, you see. And he pressed 
irie, impressed on me, that it applies also to the new-book 
business. And I think those little things helped me. He 
went on and sold me for years, and he would guide me through 
a catalog. Occasionally he would say, "Now, Louis, this is 
a good book, but I'm not sure you can sell it." Well, we 
compromised. The minute he told me it was a good book, 
from what he had told me previously in that first lecture 
day — let's call it that--that if he said this was a good 
book, somebody's going to want it. And I adopted a 

529 



principle, consciously or unconsciously in those days, 
[that] if there was a chance of selling a copy of a 
book, of a good book, I would buy it, figuring that 
somebody in Hollywood, somebody in our community would 
hear of it and would want it. Maybe it would be a 
feather in our cap if we had it. And maybe our competi- 
tion didn't have it. And it turned out thousands of times, 
literally thousands of times where we were the only ones 
in Southern California who ordered that particular book. 
And we would get a call from someone, and they'd say, 
"Well, I'm looking for this book. Nobody has it." "Well," 
I'd say, "we have it, and next time you start asking us 
first." "Oh, you've taught me." We tied in a customer 
that way. 

But to go back to the men themselves, there were a 
number of salesmen who were that knowledgeable of what 
they were selling. I must criticize the modern, the younger 
book representatives — and in that respect, I think, the house 
they represent should be criticized, perhaps, rather than 
they — because there is no longer that emphasis on the back- 
list. By backlist, I hope you know what I'm talking about. 
For anyone listening--if anyone listens-- [laughter] the 
backlist means those books that were published anywhere 
from last year to a hundred years ago, and the publisher's 
still carrying that book, maybe in revised editions. 



530 



The younger men never try to sell you backlists. They don't 
know their backlists; they're not the least bit interested 
in even taking an order for backlist stock. Once a year, 
maybe, their house will give them a list of some of their 
back stock and ask them to take orders for it on a special 
deal. 

Jim Blake is one of the men — of course, he's gone a 
great many years now — of whom I have a great and fond 
memory as a person and as a teacher. I can mention a few 
others. Louis Freedman, who at that time represented 
Macmillan. There's another big house. Macmillan had an 
entirely different policy. But they, too, had a tremen- 
dous backlist. Louis knew his backlist. We didn't go 
over the backlist as extensively with Louis Freedman as 
I did with Jim Blake. But every time he came in, we took 
a portion of it. Macmillan, at that time, when Louis was 
there, had the good fortune, or the planning, or the books, 
or the titles, or the ability to create a best seller every 
season. (By season I mean the fall and Christmas season.) 
Every season [they were] bringing out a best seller, pro- 
moting it in such a way. The book was usually of very 
high quality, and they would either have the best seller 
or very close to the top of it. Now, Louis would come 
in with the book that they had for that fall (fiction as 
a rule; they had one major fiction, one nonfiction) , a 



531 



fiction book, would come in and say, addressing me, "I 
want you to buy a hundred copies of the book." I'd say, 
"Are you out of your mind? A hundred copies of the book 
for me? With the volume of business I do?" "You will 
sell every one of them." "Well," I said, "Louis, I've 
heard that story from a lot of salesmen." "Well," he said, 
"I'm telling you." He said, "If you don't sell them, I'll 
take them back." Well, in those days the return policies 
were not as liberal as they are today. Now practically 
everything is returned. In those days, they didn't allow 
you to return very many. Maybe some publishers had a 
policy, a certain proportion of value of what you bought 
for the season or the year. And they used to allow maybe 
5 percent, which was nothing if you got stuck with a big 
buy. He said, "If you don't sell them, I will take them 
back." Well, 75 percent of the time, he was right. We 
sold them. We didn't sell a whole fifty or a hundred, 
but whatever he sold us, the carryover past the Christmas 
season--if it was a good book it would carry on till the 
spring--would usually take care of that. He was accused 
of being a hard-sell man, and in some ways he was. But if 
you learned to read him, and fought back in certain areas, 
you got along with him. But he was very knowledgeable, 
and he could dissect a book and tell you why it will sell. 
And he had ideas of selling. He is still active, but he 
doesn't make many calls himself. He has three or four 

532 



people working under him, but he's going to retire, I 
think, at the end of this year or next year. He rep- 
resented the Cambridge University Press after he left 
Macmillan. He left Macmillan and went to work for 
other — Macmillan came in with a new group of executives; 
it separated from the British company. Macmillan of 
America is not related to the Macmillan of England any- 
more. So he went and he represented other publishers — 
which were totally unlike Macmillan, but he did a good 
job with them. We're very good personal friends. When- 
ever we get together, we have dinner together; we visit 
back and forth. 

There were several whom I will mention. Harrison 
Leusler--his nickname was "the sheriff of Petaluma." I 
heard the story once, but I've forgotten how he started 
being called the sheriff. I think he adopted western 
clothes, so his eastern counterparts named him. He, again, 
was a totally different kind of salesman than the others, 
but still extremely knowledgeable of every book on the 
Houghton Mifflin list. But he had one fault: he got 
carried away by his own enthusiasm for every Houghton 
Mifflin book that they ever put out. It was the best book; 
it's going to be the best seller; it's going to be the big- 
gest book. And until you learned how to fight back, how to 
resist his pressures, you would have a little bit of trouble. 
Once I learned to read him, we got along beautifully. Oh, 

533 



we would have almost fistfights, but we were good friends. 
He would come in, and he would sit there and give you the 
story of every book. He was one of the few that read every 
book on his list for that season. And he would give you 
the whole story of it. You had to be patient, just sit 
there and listen patiently, but he had an honor about him. 
If you wavered on the line, and he wanted to sell you 
twenty-five or fifty or a hundred, then you could maybe 
make a bargain with him--and will he pay the freight back 
if they don't sell? Which he very often did. But he was 
a very honorable person, and he did a good job. But until 
you learned how to take him, he would be inclined to be 
domineering. But once you sat down and cooled him down, 
you got to know him. In every other way he was the finest 
gentleman. His word was 100 percent. If he told you that 
he would take them back, he would take them no questions 
asked. Or if you pointed out to him that he misled you 
about something, he would make it right. And occasionally, 
he would unwittingly say something which might have misled 
you. Of the three I spoke of, Harrison is gone, and Jim 
Blake is gone. 

Carl Smalley was a Kansan converted into a bookman who 
was a very unusual character. He had a voice like a foghorn. 
And when he laughed you could hear him a mile away [makes 
noise like foghorn]. He was a very fine man. He had a great 
appreciation for books, and he knew books. But he represented 

534 



a lot of very small publishers. He had one major pub- 
lisher: he had Dutton for a while. Oh, he would come 
in with about fifteen small publishers, university presses, 
who had five books, six books, or eight books, or whatever. 
And he had lines that nobody else would take. But usually 
they would publish good books. And over the years he built 
up a business which was remarkable in the sense that he 
carried these lines which nobody else wanted to take and 
built them up. They became better publishers and became 
more knowledgeable publishers--especially the university 
presses. Some of them became quite professional at it. 
One of them, the University of Oklahoma, which he had, 
was one of the most efficient presses of any publisher-- 
university press or other--in the whole country. I've al- 
ways admired their way of doing business. They publish a 
lot of western books. And we used to sell a lot of them. 
We were their best account on the West Coast. And it was 
because of the way Carl presented the line to me. I had a 
certain interest, and I felt that our people would buy a 
certain number of them. [tape stopped] 

Now, to continue about the publisher's representatives 
or publisher's salesmen. Ray Healy was one of the earliest 
salesmen to call on me. As a matter of fact, he was amongst 
the first group, that first year we decided to see salesmen. 
A very fine Irishman, very religious. He taught me a great 
deal about the book business. At that time, he had the 

535 



Modern Library, and he had Random House, and I think he 
had Simon and Schuster, too. He had a lot of very good 
lines for those days. And we did a tremendous amount of 
business together, became very good friends--and had our 
usual fights, just proving my theory that if you fight 
with a man long enough, you will become very good friends. 
It's true. If you remain adversaries long enough, you 
get to know each other so well that you're eating together. 
You may fight together, but you eat together. But he, too, 
had an influence on my education as a new-book store man — 
which, of course, is a totally different way of buying 
books than old books. 

There's one incident that I'd like to relate — I may 
have related it to you before--when I first had the United 
Jewish Welfare Fund, Hollywood Division, and our quota was 
a half a million dollars to raise. This is the Ray Healy 
I told you about--a very human person. And we still cor- 
respond. He now lives in New Hampshire and comes back here 
once in a while. When he does, we see each other. 

Another chap who had some influence in teaching me 
was Jess Carmack. Now, each one of those people I mentioned 
sold me in the very first season when we decided to have 
new books. And they all did something for me, to help guide 
me — very honestly, too. And one of the reasons I love to 
mention it is because there was a certain amount of trust 
established between the representative of a line and the 

536 



buyer of a line, and that applies to many other trades, 
too. A good representative for a company, selling for a 
company, is a tremendous asset, both for the company and 
the customer. If they are honest with each other, they 
will maintain a relationship which promotes good business 
for both of them. Jess Carmack--he lives now on San 
Vicente in Santa Monica. We had dinner with them just 
two Saturdays before last. He also was one of the early 
ones. He represented Dodd, Mead; and later on he represented 
Morrow and one or two other publishers. At that time there 
weren't so many publishers' men representing one house, ex- 
clusively. They were commission men, and they represented 
two or three and sometimes four houses. But his principal 
line at that time, I think, was Dodd, Mead. Dodd, Mead 
didn't have anywhere near the catalog that Harper had, 
but we went through the catalog again, and we picked up 
the high spots. And he had a dictionary of music he was 
selling at that time-- [Virgil] Thomson [ Encyclopedia of 
Music ] ; I think they still publish it. And he brought it 
out. At that time it was selling for eight dollars and a 
half, which was a heck of a lot of money for a book in those 
days. Well, I said, "Oh, Jess, who's going to pay me eight 
dollars and a half?" "Well," he said, "Louis, you're not 
going to sell very many of them, but every time you sell 
one, it's going to make a beautiful tinkle in the cash 
register." I never forgot that line. [laughter] And we 

537 



bought it, and we sold it. On my own, I never would have 

chosen that book. But he convinced me that it sells, it's 

staple stock. You won't sell too many, but if you sell one 

of those, that was the equivalent of selling four novels 

at two dollars apiece in those days--which is the total 

amount of business. It's helped me in the sense that it 

helped me create a good stock of merchandise where people 

can find staples as well as best sellers. I think that 

was one of our major strengths, right from the beginning. 

There's a chap named Ellis Baker. He's now retired, 

and he lives up in the Bay Area, Fremont. And I correspond 

with him occasionally; occasionally I'll call him on the 

telephone. He, too, is one of the old-timers. He used 

to be a very heavy drinker. And when he was in his cups, 

he had an ugly mouth. But he later gave up drinking and 

almost became a reformer; then he wouldn't associate with 

anyone that drank. He always used to travel with a chap 

name of Charlie Johnson, who also called on me. And they 

were great friends. But when he stopped drinking, he fell 

out with Charlie Johnson because he wanted Charlie to stop 

drinking. Charlie rarely drank to excess, but occasionally 

he would drink to excess, but not the way Ellis would. And 

he didn't react the same way that Ellis did. But Ellis was 

a good book salesman, in spite of his faults. He represented 

several good lines--Lippincott was one, and Winston, at that 

time. We established a very nice rapport, and we got along 

very well. 

538 



Drinking was an occupational hazard. These chaps 
would go out on the road, away from their families, and 
when their work was done at the end of the day, they would 
either invite the buyers from the stores that they visited 
to come have dinner and a drink with them, and the in- 
clination would be to just sit there and drink. 



539 



TAPE NUMBER: XII, SIDE ONE 
JULY 29, 1974 

EPSTEIN: I mentioned Charlie Johnson. He was a very 
hard-sell salesman. And although I liked him as a per- 
son, I always dreaded sitting down to see his line be- 
cause he bore down so hard and he was so difficult to 
fight off. And he represented a good many lines, too, 
so it would be almost an all-day fight by the time we 
were through with him. But he was a very fine person. 
After he got through, he would do anything for you, any- 
thing. But when he was selling, it was just hammer, hammer, 
hammer, just like I was the anvil and he was the hammer. 

But he had an unfortunate ending. His wife had a 
stroke, and for years she just lay there, almost as a 
vegetable. And he, poor man, would come from a trip and 
be faced with that. Eventually she died, and he married 
again. But he was very sadly taken in his marriage. He 
married a woman who wanted to be on the go all the time. 
After a day's work, they'd go to nightclubs, and dancing. 
And he was up in years--he was an old man--and he just 
couldn't keep up the pace with her. Finally it ended in 
a divorce. But I think his mind went before his body. The 
last time he called on me, he was in such pitiful shape that 
it was embarrassing to me, and we felt so sorry for him. 
He tried to perform like he always did, but it just 

540 



wasn't there. It was just like watching a man in a prize 
fight on TV sometimes. You know the man is through, had 
no business going into that ring with a younger opponent 
or whatever; he's taking a beating from the word go. And 
that's the way it was watching him trying to sell. But he 
died. I'm not sure that he was totally there when he died. 
And I think of him, really, with a great deal of sorrow 
because personally he was a great guy, a great host, but 
his selling manner I didn't like. But he did a good job 
in calling attention to the things he had. And he was very 
successful. In addition to books, he had a line of toys. 
He made a very great deal of money, but it all scattered 
away with his bills, and second wife or whatever. But it 
was very sad; it was very sad to see him on his last trip. 

There was a very interesting chap by the name of Denny 
Chase who used to be with Harcourt Brace, one of the very 
early ones. Denny was a very finely educated man, probably 
the most literary of all the people who called on me in 
those days — although Jess Carmack had a degree in English 
literature from Harvard. He knew his books. But Denny — 
I don't know what college or university he went to, but he 
was quite literary. He represented Harcourt Brace and one 
other line. And he called on me for, oh, about ten, twelve 
years. Then he retired. He inherited some money, and his 
wife inherited some money, and they bought an island up in 
the straits of Juan de Fuca near Seattle. And very 

541 



interesting. We visited him one time on the island. It 
was really the kind of a life that I wouldn't care for, 
but, oh, they just loved it. They were the only ones on 
the island. It was about half a mile from shore, and they 
had a nice house which he was constantly improving. And 
they had a limited amount of water. But later I heard that 
they got another good well. So, of course, that made the 
island much more habitable. But they enjoyed it immensely. 
I heard recently that he moved back to the mainland — I guess 
because of medical reasons. He was getting up in years, I 
guess . 

Those are most of the old-timers. We had a number of 
them who came on later--excellent bookmen, a good many of 
them — like Ben Burke, who represented World Book Company. 
Jim Wallace came a little later than the others; he rep- 
resented Lippincott and Harcourt Brace. He took over 
after Denny Chase left. A very fine man, he's just re- 
cently retired--lives in the Valley. Jim is just a beauti- 
ful person. 

Stuie Woodruff, who's now Raymar , was a salesman for 
Doubleday, represented Doubleday at our store for quite a 
while. He did an excellent job. He used to give us fan- 
tastic service at Christmastime. He would, on his way down 
down to Raymar — well, it wasn't Raymar then, it was Vroman's- 
he would stop by at our place and see what Doubleday books 
we needed. (Vroman's operated a separate wholesale business 

542 



then.) He'd do that three, four times a week during the 
Christmas rush the last three, four weeks of the season. 
And he would get our order in the morning, deliver it back 
to us in his own car on the way back home in the evening. 
He lived in the Valley. He did that. It was a tremendous 
service, and it would be amazing how many dollars of extra 
business you can pick up if you can get that kind of ser- 
vice. At that time, no matter how smart you are in your 
buying, you never knew how much or which ones the public 
is going to want during the Christmas season. It's a very 
frustrating time for most booksellers. 
GARDNER: Can we talk about Raymar for a minute now? 
EPSTEIN: I think we talked about Raymar. 
GARDNER: Oh, did we talk about that? 

EPSTEIN: Yeah. I'm quite sure we talked about Raymar. 
GARDNER: In detail, really? 

EPSTEIN: He and Fran Howell both had worked for Vroman . 
When Stuie left Doubleday, he went to work for Vroman. 
Well, he did other things, too. He and Fran were sales 
managers for a record house — I think Warner Brothers — for 
a couple of years. [tape stopped] [They wanted to be in 
the] wholesale-book business, and they got some backing 
from somewhere, and they opened Raymar--made a marvelous 
success. They now have three places: one up in Bellingham, 
Washington, and one in some town near Chicago for that area.* 



* The Chicago area one recently was closed .-- [L.E. ] 



543 



And they're doing very well. They work on a very close 
margin of profitability, but they're quite efficient. 
They've developed a lot of new ideas, and they're a 
great boon to any territory which they're in because 
they carry quite a good stock. The booksellers depend 
on them — especially smaller booksellers — for a great deal 
of their supply. They're both very fine people. Raymar 
is an acronym of the names of the wives, Raymone and Margaret: 
Raymar. They twisted them around. Incidentally, they just 
bought out the Ward Ritchie Press. And I haven't talked 
to them. I don't know what their plans are for it, but 
I imagine they plan to run it as a publishing arm.* With 
their three major outlets, they could give them distribu- 
tion. But I don't know. You can combine publishing with 
wholesaling, and you begin to diffuse your energies and 
your thinking, your executive powers. But so far they've 
done an excellent job. 

We're coming now to what I might call almost the second 
generation of salesmen, apart from those fellows who were 
the first to call on me. Amongst those, perhaps as prominent 
as any, would be Errett Stuart. When I first met him, I was 
still on Eighth Street. He had been in the service. He 
came from St. Louis, and somehow or other, when I first 
met him, he was working at the May Company book department. 



* They are definitely running a publishing business.- [L.E.] 



544 



Occasionally he'd get a review copy of a book and come 
rushing down to sell it to me. And we had a gag running be- 
tween us that if it hadn't been for Louis Epstein being on 
Eighth Street, and [his] rushing in and getting fifty cents 
for the brand new book, he might not have survived. And I 
said, "Yeah, but where in hell did I get fifty cents?" 
[laughter] But he's an excellent salesman. He's still sell- 
ing. He had Viking up until a couple of years ago. He lost 
that; they hired their own salesman--which was a mistake. But 
he got other lines. Now he has his two sons [Jeff and Terry] 
working for him, and they've got a nice organization of com- 
mission salesmen. They have several good lines. He's a very 
nice man--nice family--and one of the people that we're very 
friendly with and who really did an excellent job. 

Ron Smith handles Abrams and several other lines. He came 
out of the retail-book business. He worked for the Sather 
Gate, up north, for a number of years. He left them and start- 
ed selling as a commission salesman. He sold for Doubleday for 
a while, I think, and he sold me for years and years and years. 
Why he doesn't retire, I don't know. Well, I talked to him; we 
discussed that. I saw him one day about two years ago crawling 
around on the floor, checking paperbacks for some one of his 
lines. And I said, "Ron, aren't you a little bit aged for do- 
ing that kind of work?" "Well," he said, "as long as it has to 
be done, I've got to do it." It's a good answer, but it wasn't 
particularly healthy for him. But he says he feels fine 

545 



and all that/ but he's a little bit nervous. I hope 
nothing happens to him till he does retire. He is a 
good bookman — knows his books. 

Bob Cohen is one of the later ones, representing 
Random House. He came out here when Random House decided 
to have their own man instead of a commission man. And 
it was a little difficult at first. Very New Yorkish — 
very house conscious, in the sense that he wanted all 
the advantages for the house. I thought when he first 
came around that he was asking too much for his house 
and not giving too much to the customer — in various things. 
We had our difficulties at first, one time a very serious 
one. However, we straightened that out, and we've become 
very good friends. And he changed his methods of selling. 
As a matter of fact, I gave him a good long lecture on 
that. I said, "Look, you may think you're doing a great 
deal for your house, but you're not. You're making demands 
on your customers which are unreasonable, and you're not 
satisfying the reasonable demands of your customer." I 
said, "In my opinion, all the good salesmen I ever knew 
would fight my battles for me with their house. You do 
just the reverse." And I told him I didn't think that was 
good salesmanship; I didn't think eventually it would be 
good for the house. Of course, he resented my telling him 
that. But later we settled our differences, and he changed 
his methods. And we became very good friends. He's a very 

546 



good friend of the family, Aaron's and Eugene's. As a 
matter of fact we took them to dinner at Scandia on 
their anniversary. They thought I was great. I thought 
he just wasn't using good judgment, and I told him so. I 
pointed out to him that every salesman on my list — I went 
over all the old-timers--! said, "I can ask any one of them 
to do certain things, and they will do them for me. You 
always look on it as me demanding something from your house. 
I am demanding something from your house. But I think I 
have a right to demand certain things from your house. I 
am a very demanding man," I told him. "I have to be. But 
it's your job to transmit my demands." The controversy 
came up about advertising. All the other publishers were 
giving us certain allowances for cooperative advertising. 
And he refused to do it. I said, "Okay, then I'll buy 
just a minimal amount of that kind of merchandise." I 
said, "Why should I take any less from you than I get from 
so-and-so." "Well," he said, "We've got a better house. 
It's our house's policy," and so forth. I said, "It was 
the house policy of every one of these other publishers 
until we convinced them that it would be to their advan- 
tage to do these things. And you don't want to even trans- 
mit these demands." I said, "Do you want me to call New 
York?" I said, "I don't do that." I said, "I don't call 
New York. But if you will give me permission, I will." 



547 



"No," he said, "You don't have to call New York." And little 
by little he broke down. But it was a battle. He's 
a firm-minded guy, but he's a nice guy. But he thought he 
was doing the very right thing. I told him that he wasn't. 
But all's well that ends well. 

But this is a way we had to teach the salesmen cer- 
tain things, and they taught us certain things. We created 
a certain type of business at Pickwick. We created a 
certain type of promotions--which were to the advantage 
of the Pickwick but they were also to the advantage of 
the publishers. And it was a very rough go to try to 
convince them to give us, say, $200, $500, for an ad. 
That will benefit us, but it will also benefit them. 
And a few of them were willing to go along with us and 
give us a trial. And it was, on the whole, very suc- 
cessful. And now they're all doing it--not only doing 
it for Pickwick, but they're doing it for others. So 
we created something that benefited the whole indus- 
try. But we had to fight like hell for it. 

It was my contention--if you'll allow me to diverge-- 
that if Pickwick advertised a book, every bookstore in 
the area would get the same benefit of that ad as the 
Pickwick did. So although the Pickwick was given an al- 
lowance to run that ad, on a certain number of dollars, the 
publisher wasn't giving it to the Pickwick alone, really. Because 



548 



Bob Campbell's customers weren't about to call me for 
that book. They're smart enough to know that Bob would 
have it. Vroman ' s customers are not going to call from 
Pasadena for it. And the people living in Long Beach 
who read the Times weren't going to call me from Long 
Beach. Or May Company's customers. And we went right 
down the line. And those who were a little bit open- 
minded--well, it's something they'd never done before. 
And it never was explained to them that way before. So 
finally, one or two of them tried it, and they found out 
that that's exactly what happened. Every store in town 
got benefit of that ad. It was proven to them by the 
phone orders that started coming into Vroman. The minute 
they saw that ad Monday morning, the wholesale house would 
start getting calls for that book because the bookstores 
started getting calls for that book. And it was proven — 
I think the most dramatically--with Ron Smith, Arco. I 
think I mentioned that before. 
GARDNER: Yes, you told the story. 

EPSTEIN: That was so dramatic that we used that as an 
example to the publishers time and time again. Now it's 
just a matter of course. They call up — would we please 
run an ad for them? It's a complete turnaround. And that 
was where one of the major differences with Bob Cohen was 
when we first came out here. Aaron had a great deal to do 
with that program — with, of course, the backing of ourselves. 

549 



A very fine salesman who called on me for many years 
is Jim Pike, a very reserved guy, from, I think, Philadel- 
phia, who had McKay and Putnam. He's since given up Putnam. 
A very reserved guy, a very fine person who had a semisoft 
sell. But he tried to do the best thing he could for his 
customers, and if anything came up between us and the house, 
why, he tried his best to get it settled. We always worked 
with the salesmen first, rather than writing to the house. 
It's only when the house didn't back their salesman that 
we went directly, usually on attack for not backing their 
salesmen. Or they knew what they were talking about, that 
this is a problem we should be able to settle with the 
salesmen and not have to write you about. If he represents 
your line, he should be given some authority. It's one of 
the problems with a lot of the salesmen that call on the 
stores today. They're sent out; they're green, have no 
authority to act responsibly on anything. "Well, I'll 
have to call the house." And this takes time; they for- 
get. The house gives them an offhand answer and causes 
a great deal of anguish--and delays for the booksellers. 
But Jim was one of the very nice people. 

There was Jim Nourse and Floyd Nourse. One of the 
earliest people that I should have mentioned before is 
Jim Nourse 's father, Jim and Floyd's father, Jim, Sr. He 
used to sell me. About the time I started buying, he sold 
me for one or two seasons, and then Errett Stuart went to 

550 



work for him. Then Errett started selling me. They rep- 
resented Knopf, and Viking, and Harlem Book Company, a 
remainder house. Is that four lines? I forget what the 
other was. Later they broke up, and Errett got Viking 
and Harlem, and Nourse got Knopf — and who else? I forget 
who else. At any rate, originally the older gentleman 
sold me. Then later Jim sold me, Jim, Jr. 

And I remember the first time he came to call on me. 
He had just gotten out of the service. He had been a 
flier, and from what I hear — what I found out later--quite 
a heroic one. He was in the drink a couple of times, res- 
cued, and went right back flying. He never mentioned it, 
never talked about it. And I remember the first time he 
called on me. The poor youngster was so worried — well, 
not worried, but nervous. He had his talk all made up. 
And every time I asked him a question, it would stop the 
flow of his talk, and he had to start over again. He sort 
of memorized his speech, and I always kid him about that. 
I ask him if he still forgets his speech. And he became a 
good man. Then he and his brother now represent several 
publishers. They're doing an excellent job. And they did 
extremely well. 

The father made a lot of money in real estate up around 
Los Altos or San Carlos — or somewhere up there in the Bay 
Area. The boys are quite well-to-do, but extremely nice, 
nice people. 

551 



This is sort of another family affair. There's a 
chap name of John Storm I should mention. His widow is 
presently the manager of the Hollywood Pickwick Bookstore. 
And I knew him first v/hen he had a little tiny store on 
VJest Sixth Street, west of Vermont. He had come out from 
Chicago and attempted to start a store, quite small, and 
I don't think he quite made it. He went back to Chicago 
and somehow got a job selling for a publisher. He rep- 
resented several houses. He did a good job for quite a 
number of years, but the poor chap died before his time. 
In one of those pictures I have, I think I showed you 
where we're playing poker at a bookman's field day, and 
we're all three of us — Ben Burke, and he, and I — so in- 
tensely watching our cards. Well, I'm the only one left 
of those three in that picture. 

Bob MacDonald is one of the older men who did a very 
good job with me, representing Prentice-Hall. He had been 
in the book business for many years in the city before he 
went with Prentice-Hall. He was with the Los Angeles News 
Company in the days when the Los Angeles News Company was 
the only wholesaler out here. They were a part of the 
American News Company, which was a national chain of whole- 
salers of magazines and books and various kinds of sta- 
tionery. After he left the News Company, he went to work 
for Prentice-Hall. He did an excellent job for them. And 
I see him occasionally. 

552 



Bill McCullough is the nephew of Harrison Leusler and 
took over the territory when Harrison retired. Unlike his 
uncle, he was not a hard-sell salesman, but he was a good 
salesman, [with a] very nice, nice personality. He has a 
territory in the San Francisco area. He gets down here 
once in a while, and we meet. 

Ernie Greenspan has Crown and the Crown-related com- 
panies of reprints, Outlet--a very, very large business. 
He, too, is not one of the first-generation salesmen but 
the second generation. He does an excellent job, and he 
helped us a great many ways on developing remainders and 
learning to advertise remainders. And he fulfilled, again, 
that purpose of teaching us, and he would learn a great deal 
from us--what happens after we advertise a remainder, which 
ones move and which ones don't. And we created a different 
kind of ad. They used to have these ads made up for re- 
mainders mostly run by department stores. When we first 
wanted to run an ad, that's exactly the kind of an ad they 
wanted us to run. I said, "No." I said, "That's not the 
kind of an ad I want." I said/ "I don't like their mix of 
books, either. You have much better books, from my point 
of view, to advertise than those that they advertise." They 
would advertise forty-nine-cent fiction. I said, "I'm not 
interested in advertising forty-nine-cent fiction. It 
doesn't mean a thing to me. I don't think it would mean 
much to my customers. We've got a different type of trade." 

553 



Well, by give and take, we told them what we wanted, and 
they learned on their own that we could do a better job 
by our own selections than the prearranged selections that 
they made up for department stores. The department store 
buyers were not knowledgeable enough of books to make up 
their own ad. And the buyers would change every year in 
some areas, every three years, and there's no continuity 
of knov/ledge built up in a department store--or rarely. 
And in that respect, again proving the principle that one 
learns from the other. Ernie still calls, does a big 
business with the people. 

Another one of the second generation, as I would call 
it, is Arthur Babcock, a very fine chap who did a good job. 
He was almost colorless in a good many ways. But he knew 
how to sell, even without the color. He was extremely 
honest about what he wanted to sell you. If he didn't 
think that you could sell a book and you wanted it, you 
almost had to beg him to sell you a copy. Of course, in 
my case, I always bought, well, less than what they tried 
and more of what they didn't try. But he's retired, too, 
now. 

There's a young--not young anymore- -woman by the name 
of Betty Gaskill who calls on us, one of the few women 
publisher's representatives in the trade, a very enthusias- 
tic person. She had a little bookstore in Van Nuys for a 
number of years — she and her husband. She became a widow, 

554 



and she became a salesperson for a publisher. She was one 
of the first that ever showed up around here. And she's 
doing an excellent job--a very enthusiastic person. 

Then, you might say, just for the record, I should 
mention Jim Mottola, who sold here for McGraw-Hill for a 
niomber of years — a very fine salesman. He knew his lines, 
and he knew how to sell. He's now in the Chicago area.* 
Frank Scioscia. A great many people, maybe, in UCLA might 
know Frank. He was quite a literary person. He had a nice 
library of books, which he sold when he left here. He went 
to work for Harper's and sold them for a while. He's from 
the Northwest. I think he worked for J.K. Gill for a while 
and was an excellent salesman, really was. Now he's with 
Harper's in the home office. I don't know exactly his posi- 
tion, but of course he still has something to do with sell- 
ing. Unfortunately I heard that he recently had a heart 
attack. I wrote him. I haven't heard any answer, and I 
hope he's getting along well. 

Lou Eaton, I should mention. Lou Eaton started, I 
believe, working for World Book Company. I think he married 
a daughter of the owner of the firm. And Ann and I met him 
for the first time at a convention in Chicago, I believe it 
was — at the convention there. And we were introduced. And 
a look came over his face. We were talking for a little 



Mottola recently died.-- [L.E. ] 



555 



while, and he pulls me aside, sits me down over somewhere. 
We sat down, and he said, "I can't help but tell you that 
you have exactly the same name as I have. My name is Louis 
Epstein, too." He said he went to work selling bibles. At 
that time. World Publishing Company was the biggest pub- 
lisher of bibles in the country. And they had their sales- 
men go out. And he had the southern territory, and he said, 
"How the hell was I going to get into the door with the name 
Louis Epstein?" So he changed it to Lou Eaton. But I think 
any knowledgeable person would recognize him after he had 
talked to him a few minutes. 

Eddie Ponger was a very nice person who is no longer 
in this territory. He represented Simon and Schuster here 
for a number of years--a very nice man, quite a lot younger 
than I was. He became a good friend of the family; he and 
Aaron and the others all got along. He likes to tell the 
story about the way I worked in comparison to the way some 
other booksellers work. He said that even at my age — and 
I was in my sixties--that with his line the buyers of a 
department store or some other store would ask for two 
days to look it over. But, he said, I always went all 
through it in one day--with all my interruptions. And 
he said many times when he was all worn out at five o'clock, 
and nowhere near finished, that I would insist that we con- 
tinue, that he had to drag himself home. I suppose that's 
a little bit apocryphal, but it's a good story. 

556 



Jack Dawley, who represents Simon and Schuster now — 
who took Eddie Ponger's place with Simon and Schuster — 
before that was with Harper. Jack Dawley was with Harper; 
he was hired by Frank Scioscia. Jack is one of the first 
black salesmen in the West. He does an excellent job--a 
very fine person — and he is the kind of person that could 
go anywhere if he wasn't black. But I suppose that even 
in the publishing business, a number of areas are still 
closed to him. But he still — he's about middle-aged now — 
has a lot of opportunity. And he may go back to Harper. 
There's some little bit of rumor that he might go back; 
I don't know. He's doing an excellent job and is a good 
friend of ours. 

Georgie Kellogg, George Kellogg, represented Grosset 
and Dunlap for a great many years out here and did a good 
job. A peculiar character, he was almost too frank with 
his bosses. They never gave him the recognition that he 
should have had, I think because he was overly frank with 
them. In other words, if he saw something wrong, he stepped 
right out and said it, and sometimes you just can't do that 
in a large organization. But he did an excellent job of 
selling. He's now retired, enjoys his fishing, and I men- 
tioned him because he was a good salesman and he had been 
around for a long time. 

Bill Webb has been selling for about fifteen years, 
but I still call him one of the younger men. And he's 

557 



an extremely literate person. He represents a niunber of 
houses--Watson-Guptill , which sells a lot of art books, 
how-to art books. He does a good job. He's a forceful 
seller, sometimes too forceful. But on the whole, we had 
a satisfactory relationship between the Pickwick and he, 
and he depended on me for a great deal of what he learned. 
He told me so. And I think I mentioned before a number of 
the people said, "Well, I always go sell Louie first, be- 
cause by the time I get through selling Louie, I've learned 
my line" — which may or may not be true. (They all called me 
Louie.) I told what I thought of the line, anyway. At 
least, by the way I bought, they knew what I liked. And 
I think I was probably as good a bellwether as anybody. 

Bill Chaffee, I haven't mentioned yet, I don't think. 
Bill was around for quite a number of years. He sold a 
niamber of publishers, including Bobbs-Merrill . A very 
aggressive salesman, inclined to be hard sell. He did a 
good job, but I'm not positive that he was totally happy 
in the book business. But he did well. He was with the 
Nourse boys for a while. But he had a disagreement with 
one of the publishers he represented, and they sort of 
forced him out of that organization, out of the Nourse 
group. They told him that if Bill was going to continue 
to sell the line, that they would have to give up the line — 
which, of course, they didn't want to do, so Bill was asked 
to resign. Which was a terrific blow to his ego, and I 

558 



knew about what type of argument it was. It was a clash 
of personalities. Bill was sometimes a little pugnacious, 
and that affected his relationship with people. But on 
the whole he's a very fine man, and I still maintain a 
very nice friendship with him. He's retired, living at 
Sedona, Arizona, in that valley that runs right through 
from Prescott. As you go from Prescott to Flagstaff, you 
go through part of it. And I talk to him on the telephone 
occasionally. 

A young man name of Ernest Callraan — I still call him 
a young man. He used to work for me and went to selling. 
And then there are a number of others I could mention, like 
Herb Chapin was a newer person, Harry Smith, Mel Dir, Fred 
Hill, George Corey, Geoffrey Barr, Bill Reynolds. 

Bill Reynolds — I have a little story about him. A 
great churchman, when he first started calling on us, he 
represented a religious house. Then he represented the 
Harper religious line, and then he had another religious 
line. Later he went to work selling trade books, and his 
job was combined out of the job in some way or other by 
some new setup in the selling. So he got a job selling 
Lippincott, which, of course, is a regular trade house. 
And about a year and a half ago, I parked in back of the 
Pickwick, and he parked in back of the Pickwick with a 
woman. And he introduced me to her. And then we went 
into the shop, and she was to autograph books. And a 

559 



most unlikely woman to ever find with a character such 
as Bill Reynolds — she was a woman who shot her husband, 
who was a collector of guns up around San Jose. The case 
was in the papers. She claimed she shot him in self-defense, 
and they found a whole arsenal in this home. I talked to 
him about it later. I said, "Well, I am not keeping my eye 
on you, so here you go with company such as that." 

Oh, I should mention Russell Goodrich, who was around 
for years and years — a very fine chap who sold Merriam- 
Webster dictionaries who is now retired. Henry Caster sold 
Doubleday for a number of years out here. Dave Bramble used 
to live down the hill here for a while. He was a salesman 
whose wife inherited a lot of money. So he went out of the 
bookselling business. Joe Carroll, who represented Scribner-- 
a very fine, very religious Irish Catholic. He did a good 
job of selling Scribner. Well, he's long gone now. Al 
Doering, who was the general manager for Grosset on the 
West Coast, was an excellent salesman. He, poor guy, is 
gone. Oh, Bill Gordon, Wilmot Gordon, who represented 
Oxford University Press for years--one of the finest gentle- 
men, a real gentleman, a good salesman, knew how to sell, 
soft sell, and did an excellent job. He lives part time 
in Mexico and part in Pasadena. Herb Chapin is relatively 
new; Frank Corsello is relatively new. Helen Kosick, who 
was for years with the Los Angeles News Company: later, 
when that went out of business, she went to work for Dial 

560 



Delacorte. And she called on the trade for a while. Bob 
Wilkie's one of the newer men. George O'Hara represents 
World. He's represented, over the years, many different 
houses. He called on me only a few years, but I've known 
him for a great many years. And my wife says — that's her 
theory--he was responsible for me getting involved with the 
ABA, that he was the one that called to the attention of 
the office of the ABA: "We've got a good man here for the 
board." Ted Moss, who's now sales manager for Dial, sold 
us for a while. Bill Maher. These are all names that 
should be in the records somehow or other. A chap by the 
name of Harry Smith first sold me paperback. He originally 
sold me reprints when I was still on Eighth Street. I'm 
sure I left out some people, but I think I've got most of 
the important gentlemen--and some of them are really fine 
gentlemen. They're all nice men, but some were more pol- 
ished than others. Karl Placht — I think I mentioned him 
in connection with Brentano's. He later became a salesman, 
represented Button for a great many years. Let's see, Louis 
Freedman, I told you about. Oh, Jack O'Leary represented 
Doubleday for a while here; now he's a big man in the head 
office. 



561 



TAPE NUMBER: XII, SIDE TWO 
AUGUST 13, 1974 

GARDNER: Today I'd like to talk first about the Southern 
California Booksellers Association. I know you don't have 
all the dates on hand. tVhat brought the group together? 
What sorts of problems brought the group together? 
EPSTEIN: Well, the Southern California Booksellers Associa- 
tion was one of those intermittent things that would start 
up when some occasion presented itself or some emergency 
came up, such as postage rates or police action about pornog- 
raphy, or — as in the last case — the advertising program 
called "Cavalcade of Books." That started perking around 
1951, and they came around to us — Jack and Frances Case. 
Jack Case was an advertising man in the city, very well 
known. He's in his eighties now and lives down near, oh, 
San Juan Capistrano somewhere, now.* But he was an Olympic 
champion hurdler way back around 1912 or '16 — I forget which 
of the two. A very fine person, he'd been in the advertis- 
ing business. His wife was Frances Case, a very promotional- 
minded woman and a very aggressive type of businesswoman. 
And the two of them came up with the idea of having a tele- 
vision program about books. And they brought it to two or 
three of us, brought the program to mind. None of us really 
thought it would go over, but because they were willing to 



* Jack Case has since died. — [L.E.] 



562 



put in their time and effort, we said, well, we would 
gamble a few hundred dollars each. I believe it was 
Vroman's of Pasadena, and myself. Bob Campbell, and 
Fowler, I think, and Walter Martindale. We each put 
in relative amounts of money--not the same amount, but 
how much we were willing to risk. There was no profit 
to us, except that if we got a program, which would be 
supported mostly by the publishers' advertising allowances, 
it would do us all good. But we didn't think that the pub- 
lishers would come across to that extent, to make it feasi- 
ble and worthwhile for the Cases to put in their time and 
effort. But they were good promoters and very hard workers, 
and they got the thing going. And for a couple of years 
the booksellers, some of us booksellers, put in some money. 
But to get the backing for the program, they revital- 
ized the Southern California Booksellers Association. Now 
this is not to be confused with the Southern California 
Antiquarians. This was the new-book sellers. It got the 
program started. Jack did a lot of excellent work on it 
and excellent promotion. They planned it very nicely, and 
for a while the program went over big. It was new, it had 
a lot of new faces on it, and it was an interesting program — 
not for the literary person, necessarily, but for the liter- 
ate viewer of TV. The "Cavalcade of Books" would have guests 
on it, usually the authors of the books, or, if it was an 
unusual book, maybe some outside guest of prominence to 



563 



review that particular book. The program itself — well, 
we have a copy of one of their programs here. They would 
review about four or five books, and they would have two 
reviewers. They started off with Georgiana Hardy, who is 
presently on the school board, retiring next year. She was 
one of the reviewers. 

I knew Georgiana for many years, and I knew her hus- 
band iJack] before I knew her. He was a customer of mine 
when he was a very young lawyer. He was in one of those 
buildings downtown with the cheaper rent, and he used to 
come and buy books from us. And I remember when he was 
first going with Georgiana. And he, poor man, died much 
too early in his life. She became a widow. We were quite 
friendly, and whenever a campaign for her came up, why, I 
did what I could to help her--including furnishing her with 
a little bit of money; it's the lifeblood of a political 
campaign. 

But she was one of the early reviewers. And you notice 
on this program that I have here, one of the reviewers was 
Everett Noonan. Well, Everett was one of our salespeople. 
But he had a flair for the theatrical and had once been a 
hoofer, a minor hoofer. He liked to talk to groups. And 
he was one of the early reviewers--did a good job. It was 
a field that was entirely new — they had to make their way-- 
and they built up the program very, very nicely until it 
reached a peak. And the peak arrived when the publishers 

564 



would use their advertising allowances for books — instead 
of to a general program, they switched over to direct ads 
in the newspapers under the name of some bookstore, such 
as the Pickwick. I mean, we were responsible for building 
the program up, we and other booksellers. But in my mind, 
we were also responsible for its demise, because when we 
started the program of publicity and advertising for the 
publishers, they had less money to spend on the "Cavalcade." 

And the "Cavalcade," to be honest, really became a little 
monotonous. The format was the same. There was not a great 
deal of room to vary format, because if they had to cover 
six, seven, or eight books in a half an hour, there wasn't 
very much they could do except name the books, tell a little 
story. And if they gave one book too much time, then the 
publisher of that book was dissatisfied with it and com- 
plained. So they had to be always walking on a tightrope. 
They served their purpose, and they did a good job. But 
like so many things, after they'd been aroxond a while, the 
public gets tired of looking. And also there was the 
pressure for publishers' money from the Pickwick and all 
the other booksellers who were now doing more individual 
advertising. The Pickwick established a formula — Aaron 
developed that over a period of time, from one step to 
another. So we sort of drew away a lot of the available 
money for that "Cavalcade of Books" program. It took a little 
while, but the publishers gave it good support for a while. 

565 



Then it began to drop off a little bit. They were unhappy 
how much time they got; they were unhappy how their book 
was treated; they were unhappy how the reviewer reviewed 
it--or whatever. All kinds of little things can happen 
in a relationship which is a bought relationship. 

So the "Cavalcade of Books" was really the prime reason 
for the revival of the Booksellers Association at that time. 
It's still going on. They give two dinners a year--a spring 
dinner and a fall dinner--and the booksellers get together, 
have a good time. They h.'^va a fev7 authors speaking. But 
it's not a public program at all now. It's good to have 
the organization available in case something stirs. But 
without a cause, it's hard to keep an organization to- 
gether — which you probably know — and sometimes it drags a 
little bit. And the hard-to-find good of f icers--those who 
are most capable, maybe, are too busy. But it's going on. 
They keep an active organization. We all pay dues, and 
there's money in the bank to supplement the dinner. They 
have a good time, and a few drinks. That was '51, '52 when 
the Cases started that program. 

GARDNER: What sort of issues and causes kept the organiza- 
tion together, then, after the "Cavalcade of Books" folded? 
EPSTEIN: Just promoting these dinners, and still promo- 
tion for the "Cavalcade." And when the "Cavalcade" ceased, 
why, the organization went on, just to give a couple of 
dinners a year, really, and get together once in a while 



566 



in a business meeting and discuss problems. But even 
those, we haven't been doing too much lately. The dinner 
is about the only activity that they're having now. The 
salesmen are invited, publisher's representatives, and 
usually they have a couple hundred people show up, and 
about three, four good speakers — authors whose books are 
presently current — and have a good time. If anything 
comes up that's dangerous to the book trade, we have an 
organization that is ready to act if necessary. There 
have been a lot of problems in the book business, but none 
of the type that an organization can discuss. The organiza- 
tions have to be extremely careful what they discuss; we 
can't discuss discoiints. It's against the law. 
GARDNER: Because of price fixing. 

EPSTEIN: Price fixing. We can't discuss publisher terms. 
We can discuss things that are wrong--poor packing, or 
poor shipping, or late shipping, those types of problems — 
but not anything that relates to the actual cost or sale 
price of merchandise. So that eliminates a lot of dis- 
cussion. A lot of that is done, of course, but in the 
cloakroom, you might say, one to one. You can't talk to 
two people about it. Even to one, you can't say, "Well, 
look, if you price your book this price, I'll price mine 
the same," or, "You quit buying from this man and I'll quit 
buying; maybe it'll force down his price." Can't talk that. 
GARDNER: But does that happen? 

567 



EPSTEIN: It happens in all business; of course, it happens. 
But it's never serious to the extent that: "We should do this," 
but nobody says, "Let's do this." There's a difference. You 
can talk in the air: "Publishers are charging us too much 
money." Or, "Their discount is too small; we should get 43 per- 
cent instead of 40." "We should be getting . . . ." But no- 
body actually says, "Well, let's stop buying unless we get 43." 
Or, "Don't trade with this publisher." There's a line between 
the legal and the illegal, and we try not to tread across the 
line . 

So far there has been only one suit that I remember that 
the Federal Trade Commission has filed against publishers, 
and that was when a number of large publishers startea pub- 
lishing library editions. They had been publishing library 
editions, but they were selling them through wholesalers. 
There were certain special wholesalers who would buy these li- 
brary editions, or buy the sheets and put on their own binding. 
And the publishers adopted a schedule of discounts — every 
publisher exactly on the same sliding scale. A retail book- 
seller couldn't buy those books at that discount. He had to 
be in a certain business and buy certain quantities, and the 
retail bookseller was practically frozen out of that edition. 
You've seen them — mostly children's books in heavy bindings 
for libraries. From the beginning, I recognized it as 
totally illegal — not that we wanted to handle any of those 
editions because we never did get a discount on them. 



568 



But at least, even if we wanted them now, we couldn't 
get any discount--or nowhere near the discount that the 
other people were getting. Well, one of the booksellers — 
somewhere in Toledo, Ohio, I think — brought suit. He 
brought suit, for one thing, because he was excluded. 
Then the libraries got smart, and the libraries brought 
suit. They collected several million dollars from the 
publishers. And the publisher was guilty as hell. They 
were very, very stupid in the way they handled it. And 
now they're very, very careful what they do about their 
discount schedules. It has to be all the same to all, 
and they can't exclude anybody from doing business. 
GARDNER: What is the relationship of the Southern 
California Booksellers to the ABA? 



EPSTEIN 
GARDNER 
EPSTEIN 
GARDNER 
EPSTEIN 



Just a very young stepchild. 

It is, though. . . . 

No affiliation. No official affiliation, no. 

I see. 

The American Booksellers Association has no 



branches . 

GARDNER: Oh, I see. So, in other words, a bookstore owner 

becomes a member of both, really. 

EPSTEIN: Right, right. He becomes a member of the local, 

and then he becomes a member of the national. 

GARDNER: As opposed to with the Antiquarians, isn't the 

chapter related? 



569 



EPSTEIN: Yes. The Antiquarians has chapters. The ABA 
encourages regional groups, but it's not responsible for 
them. The ABA very much encourages groups to organize-- 
and they'll sometimes help them organize--but they do not 
become officially a branch. In other words, a group of 
ABA members in Southern California can get together and 
do the things that the ABA might suggest, but they are not 
a branch of the ABA. They're a regional group of members; 
they have no official standing. But ABA cooperates. Like, 
we have a regional meeting of the ABA from time to time. 
Well, the local members get together, form a committee, 
and it's practically the same committee as the local 
Southern California Booksellers Association, practically 
the same group. But they have no official capacity. The 
Southern California group of booksellers has no official 
connection with the ABA. But when necessary, they will 
do work for the ABA, because they're the same people in- 
volved. Practically everyone in the Southern California 
Booksellers Association is a member of the American Book- 
sellers Association. It's a wise policy for the American 
Booksellers, the national ABA, to follow, because other- 
wise they would have to police all these regional things 
and it would take away from their main aim, what they're 
doing. 

I have here a few notes of some of the original people, 
I here have a copy of the minutes of the August 28, 1952: 



570 



"A Report of the Reorganization Coininittee, presented to 
the August 28, 1952, meeting of the Southern California 
Booksellers Association. The Reorganization Committee 
recommends the following . . ." — president, vice-president, 
and so forth — . . . "these five members will comprise the 
Board of Directors. The following members are recommended 
for nomination to these offices: a) President, Louis Epstein; 
b) Vice-President, Paddy Paddock; c) Secretary, Otis Yost; 
and d) Treasurer, Lloyd Severe; e) Bob Campbell"--! don't know 
what his title is. It's something or other. 
GARDNER: Where were Paddy Paddock and Otis Yost from? I 
don't remember those names. 

EPSTEIN: Paddy Paddock — I've never considered him really 
serious as a bookseller. He had a stationery store and 
bookstore in Glendale. And he carried a stock of books, 
but stationery was his principal business. But he's a very 
aggressive young man--at the time, young. And he talked 
well and so forth, so they made him an officer. He later 
became very much involved in Republican politics in Glendale. 
I don't think he ever ran for office, but he became very 
political. One time, at a meeting, he started making what 
most of us thought was a political speech, and we piped 
him down. 

GARDNER: What about Otis Yost? I don't recall that name. 
EPSTEIN: Otis Yost at that time was working for Vroman ' s . 



571 



GARDNER: I notice that announcement is on Vroman ' s letter- 
head, for the record. 

EPSTEIN: Yes. Vroman ' s was very much involved then. Well, 
at that time Vroman 's was the major wholesaler here. Otis 
later became a salesman for Harper and moved up to the Bay 
Area. And he still is. We just saw him here a few months 
ago at a function, and he was very happy to see me. 

Of course, Lloyd Severe was very much involved for 
many, many years. He was involved both in the group and 
also in the Jack Case program, the "Cavalcade of Books." He 
later became financially involved in it. He was with 
Brown's Book Store, in Pasadena, and then left them later; 
he retired from there, and went to work for Jack Case. See, 
Frances Case died, and she was one of the principal workers. 
She had carried at least half of the load of the whole thing. 
So when she died, Jack had to have some help. Lloyd Severe 
helped him a lot. Lloyd has helped in everything in Southern 
California bookselling. He was very dedicated to the book 
business as a business. And he deserves a lot of credit 
for keeping this thing going.* 

I don't know what else I can tell you about the Southern 
California Booksellers. They paid their bills. They went 
along. And we had good support from all the bookstores 
of Southern California. Let me see what's here. 



* Gladys and Lloyd recently had a sixtieth wedding anniver- 
sary which Ann and I attended. — [L.E.] 



572 



Leslie Hood was very much involved, set up some committees, 
The Publishers Relations Committee was Leslie Hood, chair- 
man. He was Vroman ' s , you know. One time, way back, he 
was with the Los Angeles News Company; that was many years 
ago. But Vroman 's had a wholesale house, and he ran it. 
Tough guy, but he was a pretty good bookseller. 

On the Publishers Relations Committee — Leslie Hood, 
Walter Martindale, Bob Campbell, Virgil Ruick. I think 
you heard me mention Virgil before. He was with Fowler's. 
A very fine man, very fine man. He died much too early. 

The Publicity Committee was Harry Shelton--he also 
was one of the owners of Vroman ' s--and Mrs. [Marjorie] 
Dysinger of Whittier Book Shop, and Bob Campbell. The 
Membership Committee is Paddy Paddock, Otis Yost, [Willard] 
Marriner (Marriner has a bookstore down in the Laguna area 

somewhere; I don't know whether his bookstore still exists 
or not), Lee Scott (I think he, too, was a salesman for 
Vroman' s), Mr. [Richard J. ] Pick of Pick's Book Shop in San 
Bernardino. He's long since retired. Well, that gives 
you pretty much the story of the Southern California Book- 
sellers Association. 

GARDNER: Well, maybe next we can talk about your partic- 
ipation in the ABA. 

EPSTEIN: Oh, my. I think my wife could tell you probably 
more about that than I. 
GARDNER: How far back does it date, first of all? 

573 



EPSTEIN: Membership dates way back, but the participation 
dates back about thirteen years. Let's see, let's go back- 
wards. Well, my memory for dates has never been good. 
GARDNER: Why don't we turn it off for a second. [tape 
stopped] 

EPSTEIN: You asked me about my activities in the American 
Booksellers Association, and how did they come about. Like 
all those things, they evolved. Number one, I was active 
in the local group, and a certain amount of publicity 
reaches out and gets into the Publisher' s W eekly , and the 
name becomes a little known. One of the principal things 
that might have caused the directors of the American Book- 
sellers Association to think of me as a future director was 
an event that occurred in 1955 which was under the auspices 
of the American Booksellers Association. It was what they 
call a regional meeting. They started program meetings in 
various areas of the country, and all the members of the 
American Booksellers Association would gather, and they'd 
have a business meeting for one day or two days. In this 
instance, I think it was a two-day meeting. And you know, 
we'd have a dinner, and all the booksellers would get to- 
gether. And the executive director of the ABA came out, 
and his secretary, and they'd tell us how to set up the 
meetings. And they had discussion panels of various topics, 
I was on one of the panels. And it was a panel pertaining 



574 



to discounts, and, well, primarily to shipping, receiving, 
and so forth. A lot of things overlapped, but what we were 
talking about were the problems the booksellers had with 
the publishers, that, if they would do certain things — do 
better bookkeeping, do better reporting — the trade as a 
whole would benefit. They would benefit just as much as 
the publishers. The waste of time that lack of system 
creates — that time wasted, that effort wasted, writing 
back and forth, not having the invoice on time, and all 
these many, many problems — poor packing. And I was on 
one of the panels. Not only was I on one of the panels, 
but I participated quite a good deal in discussion. And 
I spoke out. I probably spoke out maybe more than I should 
have, but I felt very strongly about those things. I ex- 
pressed my opinion, and I didn't hesitate to criticize. I 
mean, I tried to make the criticism fair. But you get car- 
ried away, apparently. You know, you start building up a 
case the same as anyone else. 

But at any rate, I must have left a good impression on 
the executive director, and George O'Hara, who was at that 
time one of the salesmen — I think at that time he was with 
Farrar Rinehart--came to me after the meeting. And he said, 
"Louis, you did a marvelous job." I was chairman of the 
panel, and I had participated. He said, "You did a mar- 
velous job with that panel." And he was good friends with 
Joe Duffy. Duffy was the executive director. And I think 

575 



he must have spoken to Duffy--and I got along very well 
with Duffy, too. Duffy also congratulated me on how well 
I handled myself. By no means am I a speaker, but I speak 
out when I have to. Now, a few months later, I was in- 
vited to be on the board of the American Booksellers Associa- 
tion. I think I started on the board in 1956. And then I 
stayed on the board. I became an officer, a vice-president, 
second vice-president, and so forth. Finally, in 1964, I 
was elected president. 

And when I would go back to meetings two or three times 
a year, go back to New York, the people on the board of the 
American Booksellers Association — at least the board that 
I sat on all along — we worked very hard. And we took all 
the problems very seriously. When I first came on the 
board, we had very little money; the organization had very 
little money because the expenses would eat up the dues. 
We had to keep a permanent office in New York. Well, it's 
a national organization. The mailings, and whatever — a lot 
of expenses. And we ran the convention. Our principal 
source of income was not from dues, but from the profits 
of the convention. Well, for quite a while the profits 
of the convention were very slim. But as the book business 
expanded — during that period between the late fifties or 
early sixties and the seventies, the book business has ex- 
panded tremendously. I don't know if you're aware of that: 
the paperback explosion, and the best-seller explosion, and 

576 



whatnot. The total voliame of books expanded, and there 
were a great many more new publishers. So there was more 
demand for space at our convention. And as the demand for 
space became greater and the publishers, for a while there, 
became more affluent, we raised our dues. And the organiza- 
tion began to build up a reserve. By the time I retired as 
president, we had quite a bit of money — well over $150,000 
in assets, in actual cash assets. So they started doing 
other things. 

But speaking of my work on the American Booksellers 
Association: it was arduous at times. Certain problems 
would come up with publishers, and certain things, as a 
trade organization, you're not allowed to do, as I men- 
tioned to you before. And we were just stymied how to 
act. We had to act as individuals, but if we could spread 
the word. ... So many individuals started protesting on 
their own that we solved a lot of problems in a quiet way. 
One of the nicest things we did was [that we] created the 
publisher-bookseller relations committee. We created the 
committee about the third or fourth year I was on the board. 
And it's amazing how many problems we solved by sitting down 
on opposite sides of a table — either have a lunch first or 
dinner afterward — and one to one, friendly basis. Nobody 
blew their stacks, like you do get up at a panel meeting 
sometimes. You create an antagonistic feeling. Although 



577 



there is an antagonism — buyer and seller — always; one 
always wants to get the best possible deal, one side or 
the other. Nevertheless, it should not be an antagonism 
that is total, especially in the book business, because 
you can only buy Macmillan books from Macmillan, and you 
can only buy Random House books from Random House, and they 
can only sell them to booksellers. And if we take their 
books and don't push them--hide them in a corner — they 
know they're not going to sell any books. So they have 
to keep up a reputation. So there's a mutual necessity 
for creating a working relationship. And it, to my mind, 
is such a stupid thing. The problems, one by one, are not 
major. All together they become major. Well, occasionally 
there are major problems. Some new publisher appoints a 
person who has never been in the book business, doesn't 
understand the book business, and he lays down a set of 
rules which are totally unfit for the book business. May- 
be he came out of the grocery trade or a large manufacturing 
establishment. One person came out of Singer Sewing Machine, 
Well, it's a great big company. They manufacture computers 
and everything. Incidentally, we just recently got a per- 
son from Singer Sewing Machine who's now the head of the 
book division of Dayton-Hudson, a chap by the name of 
Floyd Hall. 
GARDNER: Is that so? 
EPSTEIN: So there's an idea what poor Elliot Leonard has 

578 



to get along with. I'm glad I'm not there. So we formed 
this cominittee, and it became one of the most important 
committees, talking out problems with publishers. Also 
when I used to go to the conventions--I say "used to"; 
I've only missed one so far--I used to get a lot of 
difficulties settled in the aisles, talking to the pub- 
lishers. 

GARDNER: Lobbying. 

EPSTEIN: Lobbying. I'd get them aside and talk to them 
and say, "Look. Listen to me for a minute." And I 
would draw them a diagram. "You don't want to give 
me this. This other publisher gives me this, so I do 
a better job for him. This company gave me advertising 
allowances, so what happened? We found out that every 
bookstore in the community benefits by an ad run under 
my name. The only advantage I get out of the ad is that 
people who haven't got a regular bookstore who might want 
to mail in an order will send it to me because my name is 
on it. But for that, I do all the work for you with the 
newspaper. You don't have a thing to do with it. You 
just give me the copy, give me the money, and we will set 
it up for you. " And we had to convince them. It took us 
years to do that. And things of that nature, or shipping 
charges, we would try to make a standard. And that is the purpose 
of an organization: to control their own members; to teach 
their own members; and to create a certain amount of public 

579 



relations for the trade as a whole, for books; and to 
support things pertaining to books, like Book V7eek, 
National Book Week for libraries--support libraries, 
support the National Book Award and certain things of 
that nature; to fight for favorable postage rates and 
freight rates wherever we can (we have a representative 
in Washington); copyright — well, we're not that much con- 
cerned with copyright, except there are areas in which 
the retail bookseller is concerned with copyright. So 
this was the purpose of the organization, and I learned 
all those things, gradually. I think I sat on the board 
for nine years, president for two years, and chairman of 
the board for two years. So I had that relation over a 
period of thirteen years. And that thirteen years, I 
think the book business made its greatest strides in dollar 
volume. I certainly don't take credit for that. 
GARDNER: Just coincidental. 

EPSTEIN: The change in the book business. . . . And there 
were a lot of problems that came up because of it, especially 
with the new publishers. We had to keep our director — give 
him directives from the board. It's an important job, sit- 
ting on the board of the American Booksellers Association. 
It's important because it represents such a great number of 
booksellers, and booksellers are definite assets to the 
cultural well-being of this country. We tried to educate 
them to be better booksellers, to be better businessmen. 

580 



We created a lot of programs that were excellent. 

Now Joe Duffy has died. He's the guy I worked with. 
We became very close friends. I showed you a picture of 
him sitting by the pool, I think. Now they have a new 
executive director [Roysce Smith], and they're doing 
very well. And incidentally, Elliot Leonard just com- 
pleted a two-year term [as president] ; he just left office 
at the last convention--so that Pickwick has had two presi- 
dents in a relatively short period of time. 

GARDNER: V-Jhich I'm sure is unique among Southern California 
bookstores. 

EPSTEIN: Well, it is unique that there were two so close to- 
gether from Southern California. And perhaps I shouldn't 
say it, but the eastern booksellers don't — well, they're 
less provincial now than they were. But the New England- 
New York bunch--it was really tough on a westerner. And 
I was surprised when I was picked for president. You know, 
you don't politick for it, and I was very pleased, and very 
proud, and very gratified. 

GARDNER: What is the political process by which the president 
is chosen? 

EPSTEIN: The president appoints a nominating committee — on 
which he does not sit — of three people. And they appoint a 
man to be president. 

GARDNER: Is it usually taken from the board? 
EPSTEIN: Oh, yes. I mean, there's no reason why it shouldn't 

581 



be, because they're the experienced people. For instance, 
I sat on the board for nine years, which is the maximiim 
you can sit on the board unless you become an officer or 
president. It's only fair and logical, because to get a 
man green from the outside--number one, he's got to learn 
the ropes. It took me maybe two years. Sitting on my 
first two years on the board, I had to be quiet because 
I didn't know the background of all the things that led 
up to what they were talking about. So it takes at least 
two, three meetings--unless you're very forward--before 
you step out and say something, unless it happens to be 
in an area in which you're very professional. We've had 
our problems on the board. People became unhappy and 
criticized the ABA for certain things--the way we run 
our convention. 

GARDNER: What are the criticisms? 

EPSTEIN: Well, especially newcomers, people who don't 
understand the purpose of the organization and don't under- 
stand the value of the organization, they will join the 
American Booksellers Association and come to a convention 
thinking that overnight they'll become book people, that 
the whole convention will be tied to their desire to learn 
the basics of bookselling. Well, that's not what the con- 
vention is for. One woman in particular wrote a very, very 
nasty letter to the Publisher' s Weekly . She was from Long 
Beach, incidentally. I was president. And I didn't hear 

582 



about the letter till just before it was published. The 
Publisher' s Weekly sent a copy to Joe Duffy to get somebody 
to make a reply. The letter said that she had been in the 
book business now for a period of about five months, and 
she'd read about the convention, that the convention was 
going to give her all kinds of classes in how to sell books, 
Well, she went to the convention. She said nobody paid 
any attention to her. She was invited to a first-timers'/ 
and she was told that she can stop any director at any 
time. We announce that: go and ask questions of the 
publishers who are exhibiting. At any rate, she went 
on and on in a tirade that the whole thing was run for 
the publishers: the publishers get the best seats at 
the dinners, the publishers will only talk to the top- 
notch booksellers or the largest booksellers, and nobody 
would talk to her, and the publishers threw parties for 
everybody, the pxiblishers even hired girls to be hostesses 
at the parties. Which in itself is okay. Here's a pub- 
lisher having a big party; he's got to have somebody. But 
she insinuated they were there for a purpose. 
GARDNER: Did they invite her to the parties? 
EPSTEIN: Everyone was invited. Everyone registered gets 
an invitation. The publisher will give them. And even if 
you're not invited, you see a party going on at those con- 
ventions, you walk in. Lord knows how many gate-crashers 
come to the hotel to get good and drunk at those places. 

583 



Nobody asks any questions. You just walk in, say "Hi," 
and grab a drink, and that's all. So you invent some- 
thing. If a guy's a gate-crasher, he knows how to get 
around. 

At any rate, this woman — it was the most horrible, 
unjust letter. And so I sat down and wrote a letter back 
for the ABA. I said, "Look, I've been going to conventions 
for all these many, many years, since before I was a member 
of the board. I don't get treated any differently than I 
was the first time. I used to come in; I'd walk down the 
aisles. I would learn by asking a question or two and 
talking to other booksellers. If I needed any help, there's 
100 people I could go to and ask for help. Stop anybody." 
And I said, "In my case, I feel that I've gotten a great 
deal out of every convention. It's certainly broadened 
my outlook. I talked to booksellers who were doing this, 
that, and the other. We'd get up when they'd have panel 
discussions for two days." I said, "I just don't under- 
stand this. And as far as getting along with publishers, 
accusing the publishers of treating big booksellers better 
than the small ones," I said, "look, I've been through it 
all the way up." And I said, "I didn't notice where the 
publisher treated me any differently when my volume went 
over a million than they did when my voliome was 100,000 or 
less." 

And they get criticism like that, all unnecessary 

584 



criticism. But apparently, that's the end of the glass 
that some people look through, the wrong end of the tele- 
scope. They expect too much. Well, this woman apparently 
expected to become a full-fledged bookseller in three 
nights. But she came to a sad end. This is really sad. 
She died, I think of cancer. I was going to go up to see 
her, but she went out of business. I met her only once. 
I met her one time after that. I never met her before 
that. It was at a place where I couldn't get away to 
talk to her. It was at an affair. I would have liked 
to talk to her. But she dropped out of the business any- 
way. Her whole attitude was wrong. I don't think she'd 
have succeeded in any business. 

Well, that's the American Booksellers Association. 
It's a good organization. Right now it's embarked on a 
program of teaching professional bookselling — which we 
wanted to do for many years, but we didn't have the staff 
nor the money. Before Joe Duffy died, they made a deal 
with the Association of College Bookstores. They had a 
program going, so they combined the two programs, and this 
was very successful. They've been spending a lot of money 
on it. As a matter of fact, I think last year the ABA came 
up with almost zero profit because they spent so much money 
on the school and other programs. As I told them, they'd 
better not go back to operating off the fat we helped build 
up. It's dangerous. True, I mean that. But I think it's 
in good hands now. 

585 



TAPE NUMBER: XIII, SIDE ONE 
AUGUST 13, 1974 

GARDNER: You were about to tell me about the chap who 
is president now of ABA. 

EPSTEIN: Yeah. Dick Noyes of Colorado Springs, another 
Western man. I remember when he came on the board--very 
intelligent, a relatively younger man. He's forty-two 
or three. And he and his wife run a very nice store in 
Colorado Springs. We visited them just a couple of weeks 
ago. We were in Denver. We had been in Denver before, 
and he heard about it, and he pushed me into the ground 
because I didn't go the extra hundred miles to visit him. 
I promised him next time I was in Denver I would visit 
him, so we did. And we had a very nice time with him. 
It's an excellent store for a small community. And he 
runs it very well, carries a very good stock, and [he's] 
very businesslike. And financially he's doing extremely 
well. He mentioned the kind of lease he had, and it's 
out of this world. Rents now for most booksellers are 
extremely high--well, like all rents, I suppose. But he 
has a very beautiful lease, which he's had for some time, 
and which goes on for some time. But we had a nice visit 
with him. He's aggressive enough to say what he has to 
say and recognize truth from fiction. He'll make a 
good president. 

586 



GARDNER: I know how attached you always were to Pickwick. 
So what were some of the things that you did during your 
term as president of ABA that took you away from Pickwick? 
EPSTEIN: What other things? Well, the organization has 
a program to follow. They have problems come up, member- 
ship problems, finances. Problems come up with the pub- 
lishers — how much to spend for this, that, or the other, 
how much to spend, for instance, to start the school. 
GARDNER: Did you do much traveling around the country, 
things like that? What were some of the things, during 
your two years? 

EPSTEIN: For me, getting away from Pickwick was always 
inconvenient. But by the same token, I always did what 
I had to do. We went to board meetings twice a year. I 
never liked New York, and I still don't, so if we had a 
board meeting on Friday, I would leave Thursday, get there 
Thursday evening, spend the night; and immediately after 
the board meeting on Friday, by six o'clock, I was on the 
plane on the way home. And then when I was on the Execu- 
tive Committee, then I would have to come in for an extra 
day because we would meet a day before the board. So I 
would have to spend two days. But that's the most time 
I would spend in New York. Occasionally there would be 
something else that would keep me in New York an extra 
day. But then they had regional meetings, two a year, in 
one part of the country or another; and we adopted a system 

587 



where the president of the organization would go to that 
meeting with the director. Originally, the first regional 
meetings we had, only the director would come out with a 
secretary to help run the thing. Later on, they decided, 
on my suggestion, that it would be very nice if the presi- 
dent would appear at those meetings. And I was not presi- 
dent at the time, but I thought it would be good for the 
organization, for the people who don't come to the conven- 
tions, to meet the president. We'd get a little extra 
publicity out of it, and I thought the organization would 
become more cohesive--which turned out exactly right. So 
we had the regional meetings, and I had to go to those. I 
used to take Ann to most of those. Those used to take two 
or three days. 

Then there's correspondence back and forth, and tele- 
phoning back and forth, with the problems that occur, mem- 
bership problems and such. It took a great deal of time. 
But, look, it's something you want to do, and you do it, 
and I certainly don't regret it. I enjoyed it. All the 
things in life you do interfere with something else you 
might do. Some you like to do better, you do better than 
others. I enjoyed the work in ABA, enjoyed it very much. 
And I think it did a great deal for me because I was not 
much of a traveler. I never got around too much. It 
helped broaden my outlook tremendously--! mean, when I 
talked with booksellers. Some of them had businesses 

588 



that had been established for fifty to a hundred years. 
And I always thought they were almost superhuman. And 
I discovered that in some respects they were not as good 
booksellers as I, so it gave me a great deal more confi- 
dence, built me up and encouraged me to do bigger things 
which I might have been fearful of doing. With confidence 
comes the will to do, as a rule--to expand. As long as we 
had only one store, we expanded our business within that 
store by doing things we might have been afraid to do had 
I not seen the world more — if you follow what I mean. So 
the ABA did a great deal for me, and I think I did a little 
bit for it. 

GARDNER: Bob Campbell was president of ABA after the late 
forties? 

EPSTEIN: Bob Campbell was president, but, oh, at least 
twenty years before I. 

GARDNER: How come he was participating in it then, and you 
even really a part? 

EPSTEIN: Well, Bob always has been a joiner. And I wouldn't 
say that he participated in that as a joiner, but it was a 
different kind of an organization then. It was almost a 
closed club. I'm not knocking Bob, but that's the way the 
organization was. Their goals were nowhere near the goals 
that we had during the time I served on the board. And 
even now the goals are totally different. And the book 
business was different in those days. I pointed out a 

589 



picture to you there where there were three past presidents, 
including Bob Campbell, and that was my first attendance at 
a convention. And sure enough, fifteen or so years later, 
I became a past president. So now that whole picture is 
four past presidents. 

GARDNER: What other Southern California people have been 
presidents? Are you, Elliot Leonard, and Bob Campbell the 
only ones? 

EPSTEIN: Well, there's a chap here who was president, I 
think, even before Bob Campbell, when he was in business 
in New York. But he was not anybody I would consider a 
westerner. 

GARDNER: He was not a Southern California bookseller. 
EPSTEIN: But for the record, he lives out here now; he 
was a salesman out here after he left New York. He left 
the retail business and went to work for a publisher. Karl 
Placht. German — very nice person. He was sent out here by 
Brentano's to run the Brentano stores. When they tried to 
break in here many years ago — which is a totally different 
Brentano's than it is now. That's all I can recall. 
GARDNER: So you're the only ones. Well, I think that covers 
ABA then. 

EPSTEIN: Well, I think so. One can go on and talk about it 
endlessly. It's an important organization for the book trade. 
The membership has grown tremendously. Their services to mem- 
bers and some of their publications are very helpful. They 

590 



publish a handbook which saves a tremendous amount of time 
for book dealers, an informational handbook. And then they 
have access to other information if they need it, from the 
home office. They provided all these extra services. Then 
they have something which is called Single Copy Order Plan-- 
SCOP--which was devised during the time I was on the board. 
I helped plan it, and I'm certainly not alone in it. It 
was a mutual effort. It allows a bookseller to order one 
copy of a book at a much better discount than he ever had 
before. But this is what he has to do: he has to send a 
check with the order, and the order is shipped directly to 
the customer. So just one transaction: no bookkeeping 
for the publisher, no bookkeeping for the bookseller. So 
that made a very unprofitable transaction a little bit more 
profitable. And it's to the great benefit of the smaller 
bookstores, because the larger booksellers, the real large 
stores, can't use it. They can if they set up a special 
system, and some of them have, where they have a special 
check drawn. You have to have a special checking account, 
a special type of check drawn. Large corporations don't 
like that. They don't like somebody in some department, 
or in some branch, signing checks. So they don't use that. 
It's a boon to the smaller bookseller. Also to the pub- 
lisher: they can give a better service to the bookseller, 
and they're no money out. They got their money right with 
the order. A number of other things, they've developed. 

591 



GARDNER: V7ell, I'd like to get back to Pickwick for a 
while. 

EPSTEIN: That again? 

GARDNER: Well, we covered, really, up until the early 
fifties. I don't think we discussed the part from 1952 
or '53, say, up until the time of your retirement. The 
first thing, to get into it gently: I wanted to ask you 
about those newspaper articles that you did for the Daily 
News, the "Mr. Pickwick" column. How did you get into that? 
EPSTEIN: Oh, that. Scott O'Dell was the literary editor 
of the Daily News at the time. And we used to meet at 
cocktail parties, or book affairs of one kind or another, 
and we talked. We always discussed the book business. 
One evening, we were standing somewhere over a drink--or 
sitting, whatever — and he said, "I want you to do a column 
for me." It was a total shock to me. I said, "Look, I'm 
a bookseller. I'm not a writer." I said, "I'm not a liter- 
ary person at all." "Well," he said, "Write the way you 
talk." "Oh," I said, "come on, Scott," I said, "I just 
don't know how to write. And besides, where will I find 
the time?" He said, "Well, you'll find the time." He said, 
"You just write about books, and book people, whatever." And 
you know, he just kept after me. He called me up on the 
telephone: "What about it, Louis? When are you going to 
give me a column?" So finally I said, "Well, you really 



592 



are challenging me, because I've never written anything. 
I'm not sure that I know English grammar well enough to 
write a proper paragraph." "Well, we'll take care of 
that." So finally, we made this deal. I would never 
review books--that was not my forte. I would talk about 
the book business. But he had to promise me that if the 
column stank, he wouldn't publish it; and number two, he 
would see to it my grammar was at least half-decent. He 
promised. 

And you know, we started writing that column, and it 
just kept going. And I learned something. I learned that 
term "deadline." And I've learned from that. I'd heard 
before and I've heard since from people who write the news- 
papers or anything with deadline--magazines or whatever — 
that you never do anything until the last deadline. I had 
to mail my column on a Monday so it would get there by 
Wednesday. He had to have it by VJednesday. And I would 
never sit down to write the column till midnight Sunday, 
[laughter] I may have had a few notes scribbled out, and 
many times Ann would come to me and say, "Why don't you 
go to bed?" And there I'd be poking out that column. I 
wouldn't go to bed until two, three, four o'clock. I'm 
not a very good typist, and I'm a slow thinker, and so 
it used to take me about two, three, four hours. Some- 
times I'd have a very nice subject, and I ' d go through it. 



593 



It was really interesting work (except that it was 
work for me--writing is not easy for me) because I had a 
chance to mention things that the average person doesn't 
read about — authors coming through, or what other book- 
sellers were doing. I made it a point to talk about other 
booksellers and their business. It wasn't a hogging column 
for the Pickwick at all. Occasionally I would get a fan 
letter, which was wine for me. 

And then really I became tired. So I begged off, and 
he said, "Well, do it every other week, and I'll get Leslie 
Hood of Vroman ' s to do it one week." And we went along that 
way for a while. And the paper sort of petered out, too. 
But it was fun. It was something I had never anticipated 
ever being. 

GARDNER: We've mentioned briefly your son Aaron's partici- 
pation at Pickwick, but I'd like to talk about it in more 
detail because I think it's really important. 
EPSTEIN: Well, Aaron had the hardest job of anybody in the 
business — he had to work for his father. 
GARDNER: How did he come to it in the first place? 
EPSTEIN: Well, he graduated UCLA business administration 
course. He went to work for Sears Roebuck. He was there 
about six months. And he learned a great deal about mer- 
chandising there. Aaron gets enthusiastic about something 
he likes, and he liked it there. So there was this business 



594 



of the Pickwick growing, and he starting out on a career. 
Which way to turn? Well, I always told my boys, both 
Eugene and Aaron, that I would love to have them in the 
business, but never to go into business just to please 
me. If they had other things to do, go ahead and do 
them, as long as they did a good job. 

Well, then he finally decided to come into business. 
We taught him, little by little. In those days, we had 
old books. We started him in with that, and then he went 
into the new-book business in various departments of the 
store, and then to advertising. He sold books on the floor. 
He worked hard; he worked just as hard as any of the rest 
of them. He didn't want to work any less hard than the 
rest. And he learned the business, but he fell into the 
groove. His job became promotion; he liked that. And he 
did an excellent job of promotion. Buying was done by 
myself, and then he started to participate in the execu- 
tive area. I ran the whole thing. I was the buyer; I ran 
the floor, with the help of Stackhouse and a couple of others 
But I was mixed into everything. I had to hire the book- 
keeper, and I had to do the executive work, and we got to- 
gether for planning sessions. And gradually I tried to 
trim off a lot of that. And I did, to Aaron — well, some 
of it to Stackhouse, but Stackhouse was involved in re- 
mainders. He worked in planning and other areas, but his 



595 



main interest was remainders. At one time, when we had 
old books, he was in charge of that. 

Aaron fell into the open area of promotion. And he 
did an excellent job of that. That continued more and 
more as the business grew, as we opened branches. He 
had more and more to promote. And he set up the advertis- 
ing department. He hired Nick Clemente, who's still there. 
(They wanted Nick to go back to Minneapolis, but he said 
he didn't want to live in Minneapolis. He said he came 
out from New York to live in California. He said he 
wouldn't go. So they made a special dispensation for 
him. And one of these days he may lose his job because 
he won't go to Minneapolis. They may decide, "Well, heck, 
if you won't come here, then we don't need you." But at 
any rate, at least for the present. . . .) Aaron hired 
him; Aaron set up the basics of it. All the Pickwick ads 
you see around here emanate from Aaron's policy--he was 
the one, together with me, of course--of putting the pres- 
sure on the publisher to try the experiment: "Just give 
us one ad--let's try it and see what happens--on a co-op 
basis." They were very, very reluctant to come out here with 
co-op money. They would spend it in New York on the New 
York Times . Well, New York Times goes all over, and it's 
nowhere solidly. And he was the one who kept writing 
letters, and I kept putting pressure on the salesmen to 
tell their sales managers. And little by little we got 

596 



one, then we got two, then we got another one, then we got 
to the point where they'd want an ad--they'd call us: would 
we please run an ad? Mostly that was Aaron's work. 

So he participated greatly in that. He participated 
in many other things--! mean, payrolls, and planning of 
money, and this, that, and the other, what to do with money. 
He actively participated. Well, we sat down and we talked 
these things out. But that was his strong forte. And I 
kept on buying. And this went on along, and we started 
expanding. I mentioned how we managed the first branch? 
GARDNER : No . 

EPSTEIN: I thought I told you that. 
GARDNER: I don't think so. 

EPSTEIN: Well, that is an interesting story. I don't know 
if it has any historical value. We got a phone call from 
Mr. [Robert E.] Getz of the May Company. Bob Getz is the son of 
the Getz who had the Union Bank. He's the grandson of 
Kaspare Cohn. Did we mention Kaspare Cohn before? 
GARDNER: Well, we talked about this off the tape. 
EPSTEIN: Well, to digress. People always interest me, 
sometimes in an area which is far different than the pro- 
fession. Bob Getz, number one, we formed a very nice friend- 
ship. Occasionally I call him up and either have him buy me 
a lunch or I'll buy him a lunch. Neither of us are too poor 
to buy a lunch for ourselves, but it's a starting point. 
"You owe me a lunch." So at any rate, people interest me, 

597 



and the Jewish community interests me. Well, Kaspare Cohn — 
you will find in any book of the history of Los Angeles — 
was an early pioneer here. He had a retail store, supplies 
and retail goods which he sold to ranchers and others who 
would come in. And his particular group of followers were 
the sheepmen, sheepherders . And, you know, the sheepherders 
go away for six months at a time. So they would, number one, 
buy their stores from him, their supplies, whatever; and 
they would leave their money with him while they were away. 
And then they'd draw on it. If they needed something, they 
might send somebody after it with a note. They'd draw on 
it. And so in effect he became their banker. And from that 
grew a bank. And from that bank grew the Union Bank. And 
he became a wealthy man. And I don't want to forget, also, 
that from that man grew the Kaspare Cohn Hospital, which 
was on Whittier Boulevard, east of Indiana Street. I think 
it's still there, but being used for something else. And 
from the Kaspare Cohn Hospital grew the Cedars of Lebanon 
Hospital. And the Cedars of Lebanon are now the Cedar-Sinai 
organization. So you see the direct chain of philanthropy 
from Kaspare Cohn, By no means was he the only philanthropic 
person in Los Angeles, but he was one of the Jewish philan- 
thropists who became philanthropists after they made money-- 
with the Hellmans, and the Newmarks , and the Lazards. That 
whole early Jewish community here was mixed so well with 
the regular community, with the general community. 

598 



Well, Bob, to get back. . . . How this relates to Pick- 
wick, whoever listens will often wonder. You'll have to 
call me "the Rambler," the way I ramble all over the place, 
from Jewish history to the May Company and Pickwick Bookshop 
branches. At any rate, Bob Getz is the grandson of Kaspare Cohn. 
GARDNER: No longer Jewish, I assiame. 

EPSTEIN: Yes and no. Certainly not active, but with his 
background, how can he escape? His mother was married to 
Ben Getz and she had been a Cohn. He was with the Union 
Bank. But when they brought in the new management at 
the Union Bank a few years ago, he took exception to some- 
thing or another--which is not unusual, you know. So he 
left the bank, and he got a job at the May Company as the 
vice-president for real estate — May Company of Southern Cali- 
fornia. Yeah. I think it's only Southern California. Now 
he's semi-retired. Although he was Southern California, he 
traveled all over the country for them. 

We got a call one day. This was when? Just about '64. 
Would I be interested in opening a store in a shopping 
center? So I said, no, no. So he said to me, "Well, you 
answered that so casually, I'm not sure you know what I'm 
talking about." "Well," I said, "You asked me if I wanted 
to open a store in a shopping center." He said, "Yes." "And 
I said, no." And he said, "I don't usually get such a casual 
and definitive answer." He told me who he was. I had no 
ideas of expanding and opening another store. Oh, occasionally 



599 



we talked about it, but we were so busy. We were working 
so hard with what we had. Aaron was up to his neck, and 
I was. He said, "Well, maybe you don't know what's hap- 
pening in the retail trade." And I said, "That's prob- 
ably correct. I have my nose to the grindstone here. I 
know what's happening in the book business." So he said, 
"Well, I've never run across a guy like you. If I could 
explain to you, I'm sure you would be interested. I'll 
call you again. You might be more receptive." And sure 
enough, a week later, he called me again; and he said, 
"You know, I've been thinking about you." He had a very 
friendly voice, pleasant. He said, "I've been thinking 
about you, and you worry me." He said, "I know your busi- 
ness. There's a specific reason I'm calling you, because 
you run a good business. But I've never seen a business- 
man that didn't want to get ahead, improve his business and 
create more business." "Well," I said, "that may be; but 
the book business is a very jealous business, and it takes 
all my time. And to expand it. ..." "Well," he said, 
"look. I'm a customer of yours. Will you do me the favor 
of coming down to ray office? I can't bring what I want to 
show you with me. And let me explain what we're doing, what's 
happening in the retail-book business as regards shopping 
centers. And then you might be interested." I told him 
my son and I were working very hard. He said, "Bring your 



600 



son with you and anybody else you want to," So I said, 
"Well, if you put it on that basis--a customer asks me a 
favor, a courtesy--! certainly will come." 

So we showed up at his office, and he shows us this whole 
plan of this great big shopping center out here in the Valley, 
the first one in the Valley. And explains all these things, 
and he says how many hundreds of dollars worth a square foot 
of business can be done in these stores, what's happening in 
shopping centers in other parts of the country, how this is 
the coming way of doing business. He still wasn't making too 
much of an impression on us because there was no real desire 
on our part to expand. Money wasn't the principal thing, at 
the moment, that we were thinking about; it was how much more 
work it was going to be. That was worrying us. Well, he went 
on and told us, explained to us all these things. We still 
weren't too impressed. 

About a week later, he called us--could he come over 
and bring us a small set of plans? By that time, we rec- 
ognized him as a nice person and a genuine person who had 
a real desire to have us in there. He gradually broke 
down our idea of not expanding. He turned us over to 
"maybe we'll expand, if the thing is right." And then it 
was his job to sell us the idea of taking a store, 
with the hopes of making x number of additional dollars. 
And he went on and told us that we could do half a million 
dollars worth of business at least, or at least $350,000 

601 



worth of business the first year. 
GARDNER: Was this Topanga? 

EPSTEIN: Topanga Plaza, yeah. I said, "Okay, I'll listen. 
How do we do that?" "Well," he said, "Fine. You know how 
to run a bookstore. I don't have to tell you how." "That 
part is right. But what's the mechanics of it? What do 
we pay you? How much money do we have to put in for fix- 
tures and things like that?" "Okay, fine." "T^d then, 
where in the thing is this thing going to be?" Well, he 
got us that far, and he was telling us that we would do 
$300,000 worth of business--we would do $100 a square 
foot. $350-, $400-, $500,000. Actually there was no 
limit. He says, "Look, I'll take you to shopping centers 
where the stores are doing fantastic." And this is true. 
I'd begun to hear about these things. I'd never been in 
a shopping center. 

So we sit down with a plan, and he picks out a 20- X 
100-foot store. He said, "I want you to take this store." 
I said, "That's only 20 X 100. Bob, that's only 2,000 
square feet. If I do $100 a square foot, which is very 
high for books, I'll do $200,000." I said, "I don't need 
a $200,000 business. It would take too much of our time. 
And if I make 10 percent, that's $20,000, and I'll have to 
give the government $10,000. So for $10,000 I don't want 
to be bothered." 



602 



So he sort of looked at me. He could recognize my 
arguments. "Well," he said, "what do you want?" He was 
sort of exasperated. So I pointed at that store at the 
corner. I said, "I want 40 feet right at this corner." 
He said, "You can't have it." I said, "Why?" He said, 
"You can't have it." He said, "I can't give you that 
space. The place is spoken for by other people." I 
said, "It doesn't show on the map that anybody's rented 
it yet." He said, "You don't understand. I just can't 
give it to you." I said, "Okay, Bob, thanks very much. 
I don't need a little bit of business. I struggled all 
my life to make a little bit of money, and I finally made 
it, and I'm above that now. I don't want to go back to 
that." So he said, "You're the most impossible man." I 
said, "Bob, look. I want a place where I can do a lot 
of business. That's exactly what you told me. That's 
why I'm here. But I can't take a small store. I wouldn't 
know how to run a small store." [tape stopped] 

So we fought back and forth. We left that day, and he 
was angry with me. I wasn't overly happy about it either, 
because I didn't want a small store. A small store would 
be difficult for us to run. We called back, or — I forget — 
Andy, Aaron, called him or I called him. So he called back 
and he said, "Well, maybe we'll have to get together. Come 
on down to the office." So I went down there. He said, 
"What the hell's so magic about that 40 feet right on that 

603 



corner?" I said, "Nothing magic. I'll take 42 feet. 
I'll take 38 feet. But the magic 40 — I had to give some 
area. But I don't want a small store. I don't want a 
2, 000-square-foot store. I want a 5 , 000-square-foot 
store." (It was 40 X 120.) 

So we fought back and forth, and he finally gave it 
to me. We got an excellent lease; we got excellent terms. 
We finally opened the store, and it took off like a rocket. 
In the first year we did over $500 , 000--f irst full twelve 
months. Over $600,000. The store was doing well over a 
million, until they opened another shopping center in 
Northridge. That sort of cut the business off that cen- 
ter. But now it's building back again. 
GARDNER: Another Pickwick in Northridge? 
EPSTEIN: Well, there is another Pickwick there now, but 
there wasn't when they first opened. 

GARDNER: Oh, it just pulled from the shopping center. 
EPSTEIN: Yeah. Shopping centers steal business from each 
other. But now Topanga ' s building back. I think they're 
back to over a million dollars at one store--4,800 square 
feet. A very interesting story comes as an aftermath. Of 
course, he was very pleased, and I was very pleased. And 
then we were sold, of course, on shopping centers. I had 
occasion to speak to him about some mechanical thing — 
which was not in his department, but the department which 
was supposed to take care of it wasn't taking care of it. 

604 



And I couldn't get any action, so I called him. I ex- 
plained to him what it was. He said, "I'll take care of 
it for you." And I said, "Are you opening any more shop- 
ping centers?" So he said, "You see, now you're wanting 
to go into shopping centers." "Well," I said, "Why not? 
We found out it's a good business. We thank you for 
breaking our head to try to get us in there." So he said, 
"Well, there are all kinds of shopping centers. You can 
get very hurt." He said, "Maybe we ought to have lunch 
together." I said, "Okay, come down, we'll go to Musso's 
for lunch." So during the lunch we talked about a lot of 
things. And he said to me, "You know, you had me over a 
barrel." I said, "Is that so?" He said, "Louis Epstein 
had the May Company and Warner Brothers" — you know that 
shopping center is owned by the two of them. May Com- 
pany and Warner Brothers. I said, "Louis Epstein had 
the May Company and Warner Brothers over a barrel? 
I'd like to hear about this." He said, "Yes." He said, 
"I was determined to have a bookstore in that center. I felt 
a bookstore was for the good of the mix of the tenants. But," 
he said, "there's only one bookstore that I would have." He 
said, "You have no idea how many bookstores I've turned down. 
I've turned down a chain from Minneapolis" — which was Dayton, 
Dalton — "and local dealers." He said, "I've turned down 
twelve or more booksellers that wanted to come in. But 
there's only one that I wanted. And that was your store, 

605 



because I knew your merchandise, I know your store, I've 
been a customer there for years." He said, "For that loca- 
tion, all the other people on the committee who were work- 
ing on the center to help rent it — we never give a loca- 
tion like that to a local dealer. We give it to some chain 
that follows us all over the country." May Company has a 
lot of shopping centers all over the country." He said, 
"I took a beating — you have no idea — by putting you in 
there." I said, "Is anybody unhappy about it now?" He 
said, "No. Nobody's unhappy. We are not unhappy. But 
we have a lot of unhappy people in the chains that said, 
'How come you gave that location to a small merchant in- 
stead of giving it to us? We follow you all over. Where's 
he going to help you?" "Well," I said, "We may go with 
you." And since then, we've been into four of their centers, 

But that was how the first Pickwick expansion came 
about. Of course, Aaron was involved in all the negotia- 
tions, and so forth. And then we opened at San Bernardino; 
we opened in Bakersfield; we opened Carlsbad; we opened 
San Diego. San Diego is another deal that Bob Getz in- 
sisted that I take. 

GARDNER: Where in San Diego is it? 

EPSTEIN: Mission Valley Center. He had a Ford [Automobile] 
salesroom in the center, and it doesn't belong in a center. 
So he was waiting for them to give up their location. They 
negotiated them out of there. He called me up and he said, 

606 



"Louis, move right in." And we got to the point that 
we didn't even have to talk terms. He knew exactly what 
he wanted to charge me, and he knew exactly what I wanted 
to pay, and it was a handshake deal. Somebody drew up 
the lease, and it always worked out. If anything came 
up, there was no fighting, no arguments, no threats of 
lawsuits. We dealt with other people that--oh, just 
horrible. One man in particular. This man in particular 
went as far as to cut off a piece of our signature and 
paste it onto somewhere else. If that's not dirty. . . . 
And we caught him at it, fortunately. He did that to 
impress an insurance company that I, personally, was in- 
suring the leases, which was not so. We're incorporated. 

So this expansion went on, and the book business 
generally kept expanding. In spite of the fact that we 
opened several stores around us in the Valley, we thought 
we would lose a lot of business by opening in the Valley. 
I thought we'd lose at least 10, 15 percent of our busi- 
ness. Stackhouse thought so; Aaron thought so. We gained 
so many customers there, and some of our customers would 
buy books in both places. But our volume kept growing 
even in Hollywood, kept right on growing — not quite as 
fast, but then it started perking up again. And then 
the Valley just kept growing and growing and growing. 
GARDNER: What was your competition in the Valley at 
that time? There really weren't any major bookstores, 

607 



were there? 

EPSTEIN: No, there were no major bookstores, but there 
were several small ones. I don't even remember now who 
they were. There was Lewis, but Lewis wasn't competition. 
Lewis is still operating, but he had a different type of 
business entirely. He sells teacher's books and teaching 
aids and things of that nature. But there were several 
little bookstores. They survived. And since then a number 
of others have opened up and are doing fairly well. A 
personal bookshop can compete with a large chain anytime — 
if they're properly financed to begin with. Where the 
personal small bookshops opening break down is in under- 
financing. They invest in their original stock, and they 
have to wait so much time to get some of it back that they 
have a hard time keeping up with it. And they have to build 
up their inventory, especially on a rising market of prices. 

So from there on, we just kept branching out till 
Dayton-Hudson came in and asked to buy us out. 
GARDNER: How many stores did you have at the time that 
Dayton-Hudson first approached you? 

EPSTEIN: We had seven operating and three on the boards. 
GARDNER: Were they the first chain to contact you about 
purchase? 
EPSTEIN: Yes. 

GARDNER: And at that point, there was not yet the trend, 
was there? 

608 



EPSTEIN: Not quite, no. No. There were several people 
that had two or three or four stores. Lew Lengfeld had 
a number of stores out here. He has Hunter's, you know. 
And the Hoyt people — Walden — they had a few stores. They 
had quite a number of stores scattered aro\and, but they 
hadn't come into this market yet. You know, the Walden 
is now owned by Broadway. 

GARDNER: Weren't they originally in Arizona, or something 
like that? 

EPSTEIN: No, originally they were from New England, and 
then they hit a lot of college towns in the East. They 
were branching out, but their business started in a dif- 
ferent way. They had a lot of department-store concessions. 
They had, oh, I don't know, 100 or more of those — 150. But 
they're usually very small. Then they started opening up 
stores. And then, I guess, the Broadway, seeing what 
happened to us, decided they better get into that busi- 
ness. So they bought the Walden chain. 

GARDNER: Of course, Broadway's gone through tremendous 
expansion, too. It's now tied up with Hale. 
EPSTEIN: Yes. Now the whole name is changed. The cor- 
porate name is Carter-Hawley . 

While we were concluding our deal with Dayton-Hudson, 
Bob Getz and I were talking about something. "Louis, is 
it too late to talk to you about selling your store?" He 



609 



said, "It's supposed to be a secret. I happen to know 
that you've got a deal going." "Well," I said, "I would 
hate to disturb it now." "Well," he said, "I can under- 
stand that." But I don't know, maybe I should have dis- 
turbed it, because I think I would rather be connected 
up with the May Company group than the others. Not that 
they haven't treated me fairly, but I think May Company 
might have created a different type of chain, much sooner. 
Now, they combine the Pickwick stores with the Dalton stores. 
It's a separate corporation called Dayton-Hudson Booksellers. 
The Pickwick name does not go any further north than Fresno. 
All the stores in the West, in my opinion, should have been 
Pickwick stores because the name is so well known out West. 
But no, they decided they wanted the Dalton name. Now 
they're talking of eliminating the Pickwick name altogether. 
GARDNER: Is that so? 

EPSTEIN: Well, over a period of time, because they want to 
do national advertising.* 



* The Pickwick name is definitely being phased out. The Mr. 
Pickwick logo has been dropped from all use, and all the ads 
are now B. Dalton, with Pickwick below. Soon Pickwick will 
be in smaller type and a little later not mentioned at all. 
All the new stores in this area have their signs as B. Dalton 
with a tiny line Pickwick. So save all your old Pickwick 
bookmarks. In a hundred years they will be collector's 
items. — [L.E. ] 



610 



TAPE NUMBER: XIII, SIDE TWO 
AUGUST 13, 1974 

GARDNER: The next item is the one we just left off on 
the other side, and that's the moment that Dayton-Hudson 
approached you with interest in buying Pickwick. Was that 
the first time that anyone had approached you with some- 
thing like that? 

EPSTEIN: Yes. That was the first time anybody approached 
us to buy. Oh, over the years, every once in a while, I'd 
get discouraged, and I'd say, "Well, I'm going to sell out." 
One time, Walter Martindale thought of buying us. Another 
time a group of actors and writers were going to buy us out. 
One of their agents came around to see us, and we progressed 
quite a bit toward negotiations. They offered a good round 
sum of money for that time — the business, of course, later 
became worth much more than that--and we actually started 
negotiations. And then they began to nibble away on their 
offer, and we dropped that. I mean, there never was any 
real necessity for me to sell, but every once in a while I'd 
get discouraged about something or other, or tired, or the 
whole situation would be overwhelming. But it would always 
pass off, and I'd get back to my normal again, so we'd dis- 
cuss things. 

The period of which I'm talking about now, we already 
had seven stores going and three on the drawing board. And 

611 



it was getting quite a problem for us. We were expanding 
very rapidly. We had not yet used any outside capital, but 
we could see in the very near future, if we kept expanding, 
we would have to. And I always dreaded that. I always 
dreaded having to go to the bank. We never borrowed money 
from a bank at any time we were in business. Even when we 
expanded our real-estate area, we had enough cash money to 
make a down payment. [tape stopped] As I say, we could 
see finance problems coming ahead. Not that we couldn't 
handle them--we had ample assets on which to borrow, but 
borrowing didn't ever appeal to me, as I said. And to be 
absolutely honest about the whole matter, I was never cut 
out to be a top-notch executive; I am the kind of an oper- 
ator who always liked to do things himself, or have his 
finger in everything. And I could see problems for myself 
and problems in organization that we were not familiar with — 
which might turn out to be very difficult to handle. And 
then our ambitions were never that very, very great. The 
assets of the corporation had grown to a very, very sizable 
sum of money, dollars, in value. 

Well, just about that time, we had a visitor come from 
Dayton-Hudson — their manager of their whole chain [Dick Hagen] 
They had the Dalton chain, which they had started a year be- 
fore out of Minneapolis, and they had about four or five 
stores at the time. And they were trying to get leases in 
this area. We knew that they were trying to find leases in 

612 



this area, and some of the developers told them, "Well, 
what do we need you for? We've got a good operator in 
Southern California that does excellent volume, brings 
us good rents, pays his bills on time, gives us no prob- 
lems. Why should we give you space?" And they were turned 
away from a couple of shopping centers with just that type 
of talk. So I suppose they did the next best thing they 
could do: they came to look to see what it was, probably 
with the idea, well, "If you can't beat them, join them"-- 
that type of philosophy. Which is strictly all right. So 
this chap came in one day. He introduced himself, and he 
wanted to know if he could look around. I said, "I'd be 
happy to have you look around." I mean, any visiting book- 
man, I was very proud to show him around — a little bit of 
boastfulness in my nature. I showed him around, and [he 
was] very, very impressed. He asked if I would tell him 
the volume. I said, "We have no secrets. We do x number 
of dollars in this store, x number of dollars in that store." 
And he went away quite impressed. The following week I 
got a thank-you note from him, and the following week I 
got a letter that the vice-president of the company, one 
of the Dayton brothers [Kenneth], was coming out here. .And 
he had been told about the store; he would like to see it. 
So I said, "Fine. Send him out. Have him drop in. I ' d be 
glad to have him drop in." So I showed him around. He was 
very nice, very impressed. He thanked me. A few days later 

613 



I got a nice formal thank-you note from him, a very formally 
polite and--ccmpany manners, you might say. And by the time 
he left--and from the kinds of questions that he asked me, 
the kinds of things that he wanted to discuss — I got an 
impression that maybe it might be just more than sight- 
seeing. The impression was confirmed a week later when 
they said that the other brother [Bruce Dayton] , the presi- 
dent of the company, would like to come out and see it. So, 
obviously, we told him he could, and said we'd be very happy. 
So he came out. We showed him around, and he, of course, 
asked kind of other questions. 

GARDNER: And they still hadn't said anything to you? 
EPSTEIN: No, no. But by the time the second brother came 
around — the president--! knew that it was more than just 
curiosity to see. He knew by that time that I probably 
understood that. I showed him around, then we went to 
lunch. When we came back from lunch, he said, "Well, Louis, 
you must be guessing pretty well what might be in our minds." 
1 said, "Yes. I didn't at first, but by the time I was 
through talking with Bruce I gathered there might be some 
interest other than just viewing." He said, "Well, to be 
very honest with you, we've tried to find out as much as 
we could about the Pickwick, and we could hear nothing but 
the nicest things in the world. We talked to publishers 
in New York, and they said you have A-1 credit, you're a 
great guy, you're probably the best bookman in the world." 

614 



I tell you, he started building me up to the sky. I said, 
"Well, it's hard to live up to the reputation you're bring- 
ing me." And so he said, "Would you be interested?" "Well," 
I said, "I'm a businessman; I'll listen." So from there 
on. ... He said, "Well, we'd like to send some people 
out here to compare books and try to find some evaluation." 
And then from there on, it progressed by meetings between 
their representatives and our accountant, their accountant. 
And we got together and thrashed out a deal. And they 
bought it. 

GARDNER: What was the deal? Or is that. . . ? 
EPSTEIN: Well, I don't think I should mention exactly, but 
it was satisfactory to us. The figures were satisfactory. 
And what happened afterward, good or bad, is not their 
fault. We took a lot of stock and the stock went way down, 
as all stocks have. Maybe theirs probably went down a little 
more than most, because they started that expansion program. 
See, Dayton-Hudson was only in Minneapolis. They were the 
main department-store chain in the Minneapolis area. And 
even there they had only the main store and, I think, two 
branches. And then they bought Hudson's of Detroit, and 
that was a great drag. It was at one time one of the finest 
stores in the country, one of the biggest — probably the 
biggest. And their bigness is now a detriment because they 
have this tremendous building in downtown Detroit and downtown 



615 



Detroit is probably no better than downtown Los Angeles. 
Business no longer goes there--a certain type of busi- 
ness. But they've made a turnaround there. But they've 
expanded in the outside areas, and they're doing as well 
as other department stores are doing. 

But because of the tremendous costs they run into, 
they used up a lot of money. I don't want to criticize 
the top operation of Dayton-Hudson, but I know in the book 
area, they were very slow in moving it in the right direc- 
tion. Had they left it to, say, Stackhouse, Aaron, Elliot, 
or myself, they would have started making the money they're 
making now three years sooner, four years sooner. But no, 
in spite of the fact that they built me up as the wisest 
man in the book business, they never got around to making 
their stores like the Pickwick stores till just about two 
and a half years ago. Now they have these running ladders, 
books from floor to ceiling, major large stocks. The original 
plan, the Dalton plan, was to have a minimum of stock. And 
I'm not telling any secrets, and I don't tell this in any 
derogatory sense except to compare experience with nonexperi- 
ence. When they started a chain of bookstores, they hired 
no one, not one single person who had ever been connected in 
any way with the book business--retail books, wholesale books, 
publishing, libraries, nothing. They took a man out of their 
lingerie and hosiery department and told him to start a chain 



616 



of bookstores. And he spent a year going around Europe 
and everywhere. He came back with the idea, sat down with 
an architect, and they built almost museum type of things 
with a minimum of stock. My first sight of one of those 
stores was in Minneapolis at Southdale shopping center, 
which they own. And they took me there to show me, when 
we first went to Minneapolis. Aaron was with me. I was 
taken to the store, and the manager of all the stores 
[Dick Hagen] then showed me around--back and forth, base- 
ment and everything. They had 7,200 square feet of space. 
Now, to a person who doesn't know the book business, or 
merchandising, or almost any other type of business--you 
don't take 7,200 square feet of space to do a minimum of 
business. If you take space, you take it with the idea of 
filling it with merchandise, salable merchandise, and doing 
the maximum possible of business. So they had this 7,200 
square feet of space, and I could see at a glance that the 
stock was nowhere near adequate. The shelves were poorly 
laid out. The store was totally impossible to run as a 
quick merchandising business. They had an $800 desk for 
you to sit down and look at your book at with a chair right 
towards the middle of the front of the store. And at the 
entrance to the store they had a $1,200 globe. Now, how 
many $1,200 globes are sold in the United States in a year? 
Maybe some large corporation will buy one for their offices, 
but just for that one--and in the store right at the entrance, 

617 



Instead of leaving all their front with the most possible 
glass, they purposely closed off the glass on one-third of 
their front--to sell books, which need utmost exposure, they 
cut off one-third. As I said before, this man had an idea 
of making their stores look like fine drawing rooms. Well, 
people who come to shopping centers are not that kind of 
buyers. It would be forbidding to Mrs. Jones walking by, 
shopping for kids' shoes, to even look into a store like 
that. She would never come in; she'd be afraid. Well, 
anyway, on the way out of that store, the man said he has 
only $65,000 worth of stock in there. That proved what I 
had been thinking. And he said, "We hope to reach $300,000 
this year." And there he had 7,200 square feet. After we 
walked out of that store, he was telling me this, so I said, 
you give me that store, and I'll give you $600,000 in one 
year." Well, after I said it, I realized that I was em- 
barrassing him in front of his boss, so I tried to back 
away from that statement. "Well," I said, "There I go 
again, boasting," or something like that. Ken Dayton said, 
"Wait a minute, Louie. You said that. Do you really think 
so?" "Well," I said, "If you're making a direct question of 
it, yes, I do." I said, "You'll have to change the pace of 
the store. You'll have to put some merchandise in." I 
said, "How do you expect to do more than $300,000 if you 
have only $65,000 worth of merchandise?" I said, "You're 
a merchant. How many turns can you expect out of it?" I 



618 



said, 'You're going to find that you're going to get fewer 
turns than you expected." They were expecting five and a 
half turns a year. You can't do that in the book business. 
Maybe in New York, where you've got a fine wholesaler right 
in your backyard, but even there you'd have a very difficult 
time. 

At any rate, we talked about that, and I told him. I 
said, "Look. Your shelves are poor." And I told him exactly 
what I thought was wrong. And do you know, they didn't do a 
damn thing about it until a number of years later when this 
chap left and all that. So, as I say, bigness doesn't nec- 
essarily even mean creativeness . Maybe in one area they'll 
be very creative, and in another area they will take an area 
which they're totally unfamiliar, and put in people who are 
totally unfamiliar instead of seeking out somebody who is 
familiar and have him help set a policy. And I told that 
to the Dayton brothers one time. I said, "How in the world 
can you lay out x number of million dollars, give it to a 
guy--to spend any way he wants--who has never in his life 
had a thing to do with a book?" 
GARDNER: What was their response? 

EPSTEIN: Well, he admitted he made a mistake. But he said, 
"Well, to us, it's merchandising." "Well," I said, "even if 
it's merchandising, and suppose you realize that after a year's 
time, the man is not making progress and you're losing all that 
money?" He said, "We're accustomed to losing money when we're 

619 



planning an operation." "But there was no necessity for 
you to lose money," I said. "You sat there and you told 
me what a great bookman I was and how I could help your 
organization. And here I was sitting in Los Angeles wait- 
ing for the phone to ring. And it never rang." I said, 
"There was no reason for you to do that. You had me, you 
had Aaron, you had Stackhouse, and you had Elliot Leonard — 
all with proven records--and any one of us would have been 
very happy to come and sit down and help guide you people. 
But you persist in losing a million, $2 million, $3 million 
year after year." 

But that's the way a corporation works. I mean, to me, 
it's an anomaly. They're smart businessmen — the Dayton 
brothers are no fools. But this was the smallest portion 
of their business, and they probably neglected to even give 
the proper thought behind it. But they have vice-presidents 
who are supposed to take care of the other portioxis of the 
business. But I can't explain it. That's big business for 
you. 

GARDNER: If it's the smallest portion, why were they so 
interested in getting into bookshops in the first place? 
EPSTEIN: Well, they hoped to make it a national chain, and 
they're progressing toward that. This year, they'll do well 
over $100,000,000 of books. 
GARDNER: That's a good reason. 

620 



EPSTEIN: No, wait a minute. Am I right? No, I think I'm 
wrong. I think it's probably closer to $60 or $70 million. 
GARDNER: Tell me, did you undergo a great deal of soul- 
searching before you sold? 

EPSTEIN: Oh, it was one of the hardest things we had to do. 
The business was so personal to so many people — to my wife, 
to my children, to myself, to my entire family. And to the 
community. Really. The Pickwick in Hollywood is the most 
personal business you can think of. Of course, we would 
tell as few people as possible about it — my attorney, my 
accountant. And there was not unanimity of mind. To be 
honest with you, I had to force the sale, and I did force 
it. And I'm not positive that I made the wise decision. 
I'm still not positive. I'm positive in one area--physically . 
I was sixty-six years old at the time. I was at nerve's edge, 
constantly. I couldn't hold my food many evenings a week, 
simply because of nervousness. My doctor kept after me. He 
said, "Louis, you're a very fortunate man, that you have a 
good heart." He said, "If your heart showed any symptoms of 
going astray or becoming irregular, I would have ordered you 
to quit years ago. But you can't drive yourself. Your 
nervous system will eventually affect your heart. Cut down, 
cut down." I have tremors in my hands--which I've had for 
a long time, but they were becoming worse. And this oppor- 
tunity came along, and I said to myself, I said to my wife, 

621 



I said to Aaron, "Look, what are we seeking?" What was 
our aim? How much money did we aim to make?" Well, Aaron, 
for obvious reasons, was very personally attached to this 
business, but he too was becoming nervous--at his age. I 
said, "Andy, you're becoming as nervous as I am, at your 
age. And it's only one thing that's doing it--the business. 
What's the worth of it?" I said, "If I step out of there, 
you run it by yourself. You'll have the problems you have 
plus all the problems that I carried. Then you will really 
have problems. What do we need it for?" I'm the guy really 
responsible. I'm positive that if it had come to Aaron — 
Aaron definitely did not want to sell. Of course, Eugene 
had no special interest in the business other than that he 
had a little financial stake in it, so he kept neutral. 
And Ann — she tried to keep neutral. She wanted Aaron to 
be happy about it; she definitely wanted me out. She knew 
that I couldn't carry on the way I was, and she knew also 
that if I maintained a five-cent interest in the business, 
I would be there every day, because that's the way I am, and 
that's the way I am about the book business still. For good 
or ill, I am responsible for the decision. I think it was 
for the good — if and when the stock market improves, it will 
be.* 
GARDNER: For very good. [laughter] 



* 11/75. The stock has come back considerably and will con- 
tinue to go up.--[L.E.] 



622 



EPSTEIN: But we weren't sophisticated enough in knowing 
when to sell. The stock went way up, and now it went way 
down. But we manage to eat. 

GARDNER: Now how about regrets? Any regrets? And in this 
I also include things like seeing what's happened with the 
Pickwick since you left. 

EPSTEIN: To use the word "regrets" in its full term, I 
would have to say no. There are some regrets. In total, 
there are no regrets. I am not sorry I sold the business. 
I'm sorry that we didn't sell the stock soon enough. But 
on the other hand, if we had sold the stock, we'd have prob- 
ably taken that money and put it into something else that 
would have gone down. So you have to be philosophic about 
that, too. As far as regretting what happened to the stores, 
yes. I'm sorry to see that they've become so totally im- 
personal. I'm sorry to see that they're being run and 
bought for from Minneapolis. I'm sorry to see that the 
service in the stores has become that slow and that unhappy. 
I mean, there are no happy people there. That's a problem. 
The people working there are not happy. 
GARDNER : Why? 

EPSTEIN: Well, because they are not doing creative work. 
All the creative work, if you can call it that--the buying, 
the policy setting, the merchandise mix--is being done 2,000 
miles away in Minneapolis. 
GARDNER: By computer. 

623 



EPSTEIN: And a lot of it is done by computer. So you have 
a lot of people who might be bookmen--if they were given an 
opportunity to be creative in the book business--who are 
not being helped to become bookmen. As a matter of fact, 
they're being hindered to become bookmen. And the oppor- 
tunities for them to grow in the bookish area--they can 
grow in the management area if they're good, but even the 
management of the stores is not bookish. 

GARDNER: Do you think this is a trend in the book trade? 
EPSTEIN: It definitely is a trend at the present. Now, 
what is happening [is] (and this is strictly off the top 
of the head--it's my personal philosophy, my personal 
thinking, the way I see it; I may be 100 percent wrong) 
the trend is definitely for chains. And the trend is 
definitely for ordering by computer, because you start a 
chain, and you've got twenty-five stores. That's another 
area which was beginning to bother us. The detail was be- 
coming so great before we sold out. The detail was becoming 
so great and so confusing that we could see in the distance — 
right now, we need some kind of computer help. And if it's 
anything I don't know, it's the computer. And from what I 
saw the computer did for some of the publishers during our 
time, I didn't want any part of it. So there that was in 
the offing, too. 

But to get back to your exact question. The trend 
definitely is towards that. How long it will continue, I 

624 



don't know. There are certain things happening that may 
make the business less attractive to the chains that are 
operating now. Number one, the rents they have to pay are 
becoming fantastically high in shopping centers. One of the 
reasons they're becoming fantastically high is because there 
are three or four chains competing for the same space. So 
the landlord just sits back there waiting for the one who'll 
offer him the most money. And it was illustrated to me by 
Mr. Getz, whom we spoke about earlier. There was one store in 
Eagle Rock. Now Eagle Rock is no great shakes for a shopping 
center. It's not a big center. But we wanted to go in there. 
And then Walden wanted to go in there, and then another chain 
wanted to go in there. We thought we had a deal going, so we 
called up there. I said, "Well, how about a deal with you?" 
He said, "I don't think you've got a store. I don't think we 
can give you a store." I said, "Why not?" He said, "You're 
not willing to pay enough money." I said, "We offered you more 
than we ever paid you at any other place." "Yes, but," he said, 
"we've got two people offering us more." So I said to Bob, 
"Look, we can do the best job, selling books." "Oh, he said, 
"they can't hold a candle to you." "Well, then, why don't 
you give us the store?" He said, "Louie, I work for the 
May Company. And the May Company's object is to make money. 
And they love to collect high rents. What would you do if 
you sat here and you had three people throwing more and 
more money at you? Which would you take?" He said, 

625 



"That's exactly what we're doing. These people are just 
throwing money at us, they want to get in here so bad. We 
all know you do a better job. But the insurance company 
who loans us the money, they want to get the biggest rent 
schedule they can on their books." So we didn't get that. 

But the rents are tremendously high. Now, shopping 
centers are beginning to compete against themselves. There 
are more shopping centers being opened in every area, so 
they begin to compete with themselves. The labor situation 
is becoming highly competitive. And one other thing which 
I see in the offing is a discount schedule for books. The 
present discount schedule is very much in favor of large 
buyers, and the chains are getting something they're not 
entitled to. I know what it is, but I do not want to dis- 
cuss it because it's a dangerous subject. It may involve 
[Federal] Trade Commission action between the large stores 
and the small stores. And I'm afraid that the chain stores 
are going to be hit in the way of paying for services that 
they're presently getting and not paying for. And the dis- 
count relationship may have to be ironed out. And if they 
do, it will cost them a lot of money, cost them a lot of 
money. When they started opening stores in the hundreds — 
like Walden and Dalton, into the hundreds--they began to 
exercise a great deal of power over some publishers. And 
they're beginning to meet some resistance with the large 
publishers. I can see a clash in the relatively near future. 

626 



It's got to come, because the publishers can't keep on 
giving them what they're giving them. They can't do it 
legally, and whether they will want to do it illegally. . . . 
And they're pressing. Well, let's face it, you know that 
the bigger a customer becomes — the same way in every line — 
the more they'll press for better discounts or for more ad- 
vertising allowances. So there's a big head-on collision 
coming which may cost the chains a large amount of money 
in operating expenses. 

There is room, however, for a good independent bookstore 
in almost any community, which can still give--who will give-- 
personal service, personal attention, and be willing to exer- 
cise some authority over his business. He doesn't have to 
wire or call Minneapolis, or whatever the city, to find out 
if he can do something out of the usual. There will always 
be room for that. I was discussing that with the present 
president of the ABA when we visited him two weeks ago at 
Colorado Springs, It's one of the things that we talked 
about at lunchtime. He asked me whether I thought that 
he would have to chain up. I said I thought he would, at 
least in his own area, because if he didn't, there would be 
several chains coming in and they might surround him and 
hurt him. Even in a comparatively small area like Colorado 
Springs--shopping centers are springing up all over. "And 
they may hurt your business. So if an opportunity does 
come up, and you can chain up in your own area without 

627 



getting too far afield, it's my opinion you should." With 
one or two stores, he can still control it very nicely. It's 
when he gets up in the fifteens and twenties, then he has to 
have management. And he would have to manage the management 
rather than the stores. My big problem was I know the book 
business but I don't know management. We got along very 
well with the management we had when we had the number of 
stores that we had. The trend is definitely, to answer 
the question again, toward further chaining up. It will 
eventually reach its peak, and it may not be as profitable 
as it was with fewer stores. 

GARDNER: Is the trend, then, also out of the hands of the 
bookmen? You've been sort of hinting at that without really 
saying it. 

EPSTEIN: There aren't that many bookmen. You see, the 
trouble with the chains is [that] they train managers but 
they don't train bookmen. So where are they going to get 
the bookmen? You see, right now, Dayton-Hudson, the only 
bookmen they have, trained bookmen, are the people they 
took out of Pickwick. Their major buyers are Pickwick peo- 
ple--all trained at the Pickwick. They took Joni Miller, 
Alan Kahn, Brian Baxter; Geof Rogart just left to go there. 
I think two other people left; I can't think of their 
names at the moment--people whom I had not trained. Joni, 
Alan, and Brian were all people that worked under me. They 
worked under Elliot; they knew our system; they knew our 

628 



system of buying. Alan worked for us since he was fourteen 
years old. And he started, oh, handing out those little 
bookmarks at the door, that we used to. The purpose was 
to watch people as they walked out. And then he worked 
weekends, and then he went to college. He worked summers. 
And finally, when he was graduating from college, about a 
year or so before, we sat down. He asked me, "Do I have a 
future in the book business?" So I pointed to Elliot; I 
pointed to Stackhouse; I pointed to Aaron. I said, "Well, 
these guys made a future in the book business. You can if 
you want to. " And I told him what it takes to want to. 
You've got to work hard, and you've got to learn as much 
as possible about your business, and just take hold of an 
area and do a good job. It's that simple. It takes stick- 
to-itiveness . He said, "Okay." And by God, he did, and 
turned out to be an excellent man. He's a good buyer, good 
buyer. He's young; he's loud. But basically, he's a good 
guy, in the sense that he's an ethical person. He's a good 
person, but he gets overexcited sometimes and makes noise. 
Sometimes he uses a few too [many] expletives. But he's 
right in the generation of expletives. He's in that exact 
generation that uses that foul language. But fortunately 
he stayed with something constructive instead of destructive, 
The language--he adopted that. 

So where are they going to get bookmen? Who is train- 
ing them? We're not training any bookmen here now anymore. 

629 



They don't need them. All they need is people who manage 
the store, hire and fire, see that the cash register totals 
up; and all the buying and thinking is done in Minneapolis. 
And every other chain has the same problem. That's one of 
the things that worries me about the book trade: so many 
of the stores, by the nature of their operation, have to 
become, instead of major collections of books, smaller 
collections of books, of best sellers, which will necessitate 
the publisher to try to create best sellers, in this sense: 
that they will have to spend a lot more money on promotion 
with the chains. The tendency will be to more emphasis on 
the sale of best sellers and a diminishing emphasis on the 
lesser books, which may be far better literary works-- 
usually are because the general average, in the United 
States (or any country; I'm not downgrading the United 
States) is not literature per se but a story, an adventure, 
be it fiction or nonfiction. But when you get down to liter- 
ature, it has to be for the well-educated person and those 
few people who appreciate fine literature. It applies to 
fine music as well, or fine merchandise, or fine art. It's 
relatively the same. The popular is not necessarily the 
best — in art, in music, or anything. So they're dropping 
the fine; they're dropping the better because it doesn't 
move fast. And the tendency will be to shorten the list 
of titles, the same way that, say, Dalton had before the 
Pickwick policy went in. Of fifty titles that we handled, 

630 



maybe they would have five out of the fifty. Why? Be- 
cause they didn't sell too fast. We would handle a title 
if it sold even one a year. i felt it was my duty. 
They have no such duty. They have a duty only to turn- 
over. And with all that turnover, their profits are not 
superior or even close to what we had with a lesser turn- 
over. That is in general to talk about the question of 
what is going to happen. But there is an opportunity for 
an individual store to come in, an individual operator, 
and gradually build up a business. He has to work like 
hell; he has to do the same thing that I and some others 
did when we built our businesses. It can be done. 
GARDNER: Well, what about your own future? 
EPSTEIN: Well, my future is governed by numbers, and the 
numbers are the number of years in one's life. I'm pres- 
ently approaching seventy-three. I'm not planning to do 
anything much different from what I'm doing right now. For- 
tunately I keep busy with a lot of things I'm still inter- 
ested in. 

GARDNER: I.e., buying books. 

EPSTEIN: Well, I buy books if I buy them cheap enough, 
[laughter] I've sort of come back to a love that I've 
really never lost: it's the old-book business, and I like 
to visit old-book stores and see what I can find. I visit 
junk shops, as you know. I boast about buying a book for 
a dime and selling it for five dollars sometimes, most of 

631 



the time just putting it on my shelf and forgetting about 
it, thinking it's worth a lot. 

Let's face it, approaching seventy-three, you can't 
plan too far ahead; but on the other hand, I'm not planning 
just to sit down and sit, either. As long as God gives me 
strength and ability to keep my mind going, I intend to just 
get around as much as possible. As you know, I work with 
the [L.A.] Library Association. We're planning an auction 
for sometime next February or March at the [Sotheby] Parke 
Bernet galleries. We've got to find 200 people who will 
each give us a book or some art object worth approximately 
$100. We're hoping to raise $20,000. The Los Angeles 
Library Association's running a book sale on the lot at 
the library again, like they've done for the last two years. 
We've been working on that. Oh, there are any number of 
people who call me for this, that, or the other. And I 
don't need as much activity as I used to. I still read 
book catalogs, books about books. I meet bookmen. I'm 
very happy to say that they're all glad to see me. Really. 
And we discuss a lot. One of the most gratifying things, 
I think, about the whole business of being where I am today 
from the route I came through is the fact that along the 
way I met so many people, made so many friends, who are 
still my friends and who are always happy to see me. I'm 
happy to see them. They've always got a question for me 
to answer. "What would you do with this? What would you 

632 



do with that?" And I give them whatever advice I can, 
for whatever it's worth. And amazinqly some of it, they 
take and they use. And if I see them doing something 
wrong--which I think they could do better, let's put it 
that way--I suggest it and very often they pursue it. 
There's that thing called respect which I think I have 
from them. In spite of the fact they were all theoret- 
ically my competitors, there was never that spirit of 
antagonistic competition between myself and any of the 
others. I think Mr. Campbell will probably tell you that; 
I think Walter will tell you that. I think even Lew 
Lengfeld, who is the most difficult person in the book 
business to get along with--he and competitors don't nor- 
mally get along, but he made an exception with me. He 
told me one day. He came to my farewell dinner, retirement 
dinner. He said, "Louis, you know, you're the only guy I 
would ever go to a dinner like this for." I said, "Lew, 
I'm very complimented." I knew what he was talking about. 
He admits that he doesn't want too much to do with other 
booksellers--which is his privilege. I'm happy to have en- 
joyed that contact with booksellers — in the old-book trade, 
the new-book trade. Occasionally I'll meet a person in the 
bookstore, and my name will come up--somebody will mention 
my name. And somebody will say, "Oh, I've heard about you 
for years. I'm so happy to meet you." They've been in the 
trade, but they're younger in the trade. They'll say, "I've 

633 



been hearing about you for years." Well, that's not bad to 
hear, really. I always say, "Well, I hope some of it was 
good." He says, "Oh, my, you're supposed to be the kingpin." 
Well, true or not, it's not too bad to hear. 

In closing, I have a lot to be thankful for, a lot I'm 
gratified about: the librarians, the booksellers, the pub- 
lishers, the book readers, the book customers. Writers from 
all over the world have been through my bookstore. They 
commended me; they found things there that they hadn't 
found anywhere else. New Yorkers, who are the hardest 
people to please when they come to California, express 
amazement and surprise to find a bookstore of the quality 
of the Pickwick here, later admitting that there was no 
such thing, no store of that kind in New York that had 
the kind of stock we had. Authors thanking me for allow- 
ing them to browse because the books were their only friends. 
Like Elia Kazan telling me publicly, in front of a group of 
people, that I personally didn't know how much that book- 
store (not necessarily me — me, too, he said, because I spoke 
to him, I was friendly to him) helped tide him over one of 
the worst periods in his life. He says he didn't know what 
he would have done if there was no Pickwick to go to every 
night, go up there and go through the stacks in the old 
books, picking up a book and reading it. He said he would 
have gone mad, or committed suicide, or something. That 



634 



strong, is the way he expressed it. Finding books they'd 
been looking for for people, helping them solve their 
problems. I've great things to look back on. 



635 



INDEX 



AAA Bookstore 
A-1 Bookshop 
Abbey Book Shop 



Abell, A.N. 
Abraham and Straus, 

Brooklyn 
Abrams , Harry N. , Inc. 
Abramson, Ben 
Acadia Book Shop 



Acres of Books 
Adams , John Jay 
Adco Sports Book Exchange 
Agfa film agency 
Albert, Eddie 
Albert, Margo 

American Antiquarian Booksellers 
Association 

Southern California Chapter 



American Book Prices Current 
American Booksellers Association 

American Civil Liberties Union 
American Retailers Association 
Ames family 

Andrews, Mr. 

Andrews, Ted 

Antiquarian Bookman (periodical) 

Archer, H. Richard 

Arco Publishing Company 

Argonaut Book Shop 



445 

234 

224-225, 230 

420-421, 461, 

486 

70-71, 72 

345, 376 



261, 
482, 



545 

259 

57-70, 79-80 

101-103, 

131-132, 

155, 157 

199, 218 

446-448 

39, 42 

428-429 

275 

493 

493 

477, 505 

569-570 

463, 469 

503-513, 

561, 563 

507 

19, 411, 

573-592, 

352 

48 

71-72 

117 

117 

199 

103, 240-241 

211-213, 549 

74, 105, 135 

179, 186-188 



98, 
105, 124, 
145-149, 

159, 179 

452, 



552 



509, 511-512 

477-502, 
514-524, 
569-570 

569-570, 
627 



158, 
191- 



Argosy Bookshop 
Argus Bookshop 



194, 
224, 
410 
259 



201, 
231, 



218-219, 
298, 487 



636 



Arrowhead Drinking Water 
Association of College Bookstores 
August, Cornelia Duchon 



460-461 

585 

8 



B 



Babcock, Arthur 

Bachman, J.G. 

Bachman, Lawrence 

Baker, Ellis 

Bancroft Junior High School, 

Hollywood 
Bank of America 

Barbierri and Price Book Store 
Barr, Geoffrey 
Bass, Marie L. 
Bassett, F.N. 
Baxter, Brian 
B. Dalton, Bookseller 

Southdale Shopping Center store, 
Minneapolis 
Bechtold, Eugene 

Bein, Barbara 

Bekins Storage 

Bellows, George 

Beneficial Life Insurance Company 

Bennett and Marshall 

Bennett, Robert 

Berg Metals 
Berman, Gideon 
Berman, Joe 

Beverly Hills Book and Record Shop 
Beverly Hills Hotel 
Beverly Hills Public Library 
Biola (Bible Institute of Los 
Angeles) 
Book Room 
Black, B. , and Sons 
Blake, James D. 
Blatt, Bertha G. 
Blatt, Lucille 
Bloch, Martin 
Blum, Burt 
Blum, Gene 
Blum, Harry 



554 
301 
301 
538 
273 

295 

231-232, 234 

559 

229 

500 

628 

605, 

628, 



608-624 
629-631 



626, 



617-619 

418-419, 

459, 480 

274 

84, 157 

260-261 

283 

383-384, 

487 

103-104, 



428-429, 



400-401, 



124, 382- 



384, 400-401 

77 

225, 421, 461 

371-374 

394-395 

305 

91-95, 109 

57, 58, 67, 101, 117 

147, 162 

117, 154 

294 

526-529, 531, 534 

264, 403, 408 

403, 408 

457 

448-449, 513 

448-449, 513 

448, 513 



637 



Blum, Jack 

B'Nai B'Rith 

Anti-Defamation League 
B'Nai B' Rith Messenger (newspaper) 
Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc. 
Bodkin, John J. 
Bohn Library 
Bookazine 
Book Center, The 
Bookman's Shop 
Books in Print 
Books in Review bookstore 
Bookseller, The 
Book Treasury, The 
Borden, Manny 
Borden, Sarah 

Borzon Books 

Boulevard Book and Art Shop 

Boutell, Roger 

Boynton, Mary 

Bradbury, Ray 

"How to Spend an Evening in Los 
Angeles" 
Bradley, Tom 
Bramble, Dave 
Branch, C.U. 

Braun, Mr. 

Braun and Reinhold Bookroom 

Brecht, Bertolt 

Breed Street Shul (Congregation 

Talmud Torah) , Boyle Heights 
Brentano's Inc. 



Brier, Samuel 

Broadway Department Stores 

Brown ' s Book Shop 

Brown Derby Restaurant, Hollywood 

Brown, Helen 

Brown, Herbert F. 

Brown, Jack 

Brown, Phil 

Brush, Albert 

Bullock's Department Stores 

Burbank Public Library 



448-449, 513-514, 

515 

339 

358-359 

76 

558 

241 

354 

409-410, 448, 457 

433, 457-460 

395-396 

119-120 

427-428 

225 

520 

234, 236-238, 488 

234-235, 236-238, 

488 

457 

427 

87-89 

91-93, 

335 

335 



94-95, 97 



366 

560 

433-437 

266 

266 

324-325 

24, 40-41, 



76, 278 



237, 395 

422-426, 

561, 590 

478-480 

155, 156 

501, 402, 

433 

225 

401 

427-428 



, 410-411, 
437, 457 



609 
572 



483-484 
402 



225, 

502 

316 

64, 

203, 



230, 482-484 



155, 
260 



156, 
345 



202- 



94-97, 133-134 



638 



Burch, John Q, 
Burke, Ben 



153 
487 
542 



429, 445-446 



Caler publications 
Callman, Ernest 
California Book Company 
California Institute of Technology 
Cambridge Bookshop 
Cambridge University Press 
Campbell, Bob 



Campbell's Book Store 

Canterbury Book Shop 

Carmack, Jess 

Carroll, Joe 

Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Inc. 

Case, Frances 

Case, Jack 

Case School, Cleveland 

Case Western Reserve University 

Casey, Clark 

Castle, A.D. 

"Cavalcade of Books" (TV program) 

Cedars of Lebanon Hospital 

see Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 
Chadwick, Isaac E. 
Chaffee, Bill 
Chandler, Raymond 
Chapin, Herb 
Chaplin, Charlie 
Chaplin, Oona O'Neill 
Charney, King 
Chase, Denny 
Chase, Mrs. Denny 
Cherokee Book Shop 
Chevalier, Joe 
Christian, Peggy 
Chudikoff family 
City of Hope 

Claremont Book and Art Shop 
Clark, Arthur H. 



491-492 



524 

559 

115-116, 140, 457 

272 

437, 442, 

533 

114-115, 

340, 341 

571, 573 

114-115, 

211 

442 

536-538, 

560 

609 

562-563, 



210, 
549, 
589, 

140, 



541 



230, 
563, 
633 

210- 



402, 

572 

23 

23, 

514 

55, 

402, 



566 
562-563, 



34 

229 
562-566, 



76, 598 



572 
566, 



572 



560 
308-309 



44, 
154 

558-559 
336 

559, 

302, 

309 

275 

541-542 

541 

448-449 

411-412 

437-438 

283 

76, 196 

282 

478-480 

226, 480-481 



513-514 
476 



276-277, 



639 



(Mark Twain) 



Dealer (newspaper) 



Clemens, Samuel 

Tom Sawyer 
Clemente, Nick 
Cleveland, June 
Cleveland Plain 
Coca-Cola of Los Angeles 
Cohen, Bob 
Cohn, Kaspare 
Cohn family 

Cole, Barbara (Mrs. John) 
Cole, John 
Cole's Book and Craft Shop 

La Jolla 
College Book Company 
Col lier ' s Encyclopedia 
CoTumbia University 
Communist party, USA 

Connoisseur Bookshop 
Corey, George 
Corsello, Frank 
Craft, Robert 
Cramer, Leslie 
Cramer, Nate 
Creeley, Bunster 
Crown Publishers, Inc. 
Curio Book Shop 

Curtis, Paul 



108, 156 

108 

596 

156 

20 

460-461 

546-548, 549 

597-599 

77, 597-598 

485-486 

484-486 

484-486 



238 

436 

454 

465-468, 

473-474 

154 

559 

560 

325 

283 

283 

224-225, 

394, 553 

121-123, 

458-459 

72 



470-471 



261 



433, 457 



Dahlstrom, Fredrick 
Dale, Harry 



Dalinsky, Celia 
Dalton, B., Bookseller 

see B. Dalton, Bookseller 

Davidson, Mr. 

Dawley, Jack 
Dawson, Ernest 



Dawson, Glen 
Dawson, Muir 



395-396 
131 

427, 448 
487-488 
487-488 



143, 409-410, 
457, 463 



262, 263 

557 

59, 61, 98, 104, 

107, 108, 123-125, 

140, 143, 156, 255, 

462 

61, 107, 462, 504, 

511, 518 

61, 107, 143, 462, 

504 



640 



Dawson's Book Shop 



Dayton, Bruce 
Dayton, Kenneth 
Dayton-Hudson Corporation 

Deighton, Lillian 
Dellquest, A.W. 
Democratic party 
De Vorss, Douglas 
De Vorss and Company 
Dial/Delacorte Press 
Diamond, Sid 

Diaz-Garcia, Mr. 

Dietrich, Marie 

Dietrich, Marlene 

Dillon, John 

Dillon, Mrs. John 

Dillon Bookshop 

Dir, Mel 

Dodd, Mead & Co. 

Dodger Stadium 

Doering, Al 

Doheny, Mrs. Edward L. 

Doheny family 

Don the Beachcomber, Hollywood 

Dore, Gustave 

Doubleday and Company, Inc. 



Dreiser, Theodore 
Duchon, Morris 
Duchon, Rose Epstein 

Duffy, Joe 

Dutton, E.P., & Co., Inc 
Dysinger, Marjorie 



51, 
98, 
125 
226 
383 



58, 59, 61, 69, 
104, 114, 123- 
, 128, 143, 156, 
243 



238 



255, 



461-462, 488 



614-615, 

613-615, 

553, 578 

624, 628 

406-407 

153-153a 

362, 471-472 

429-431 

430 

561 

78 

427 

305 

302, 305-307 

262 

262 

262 

559 

537 

366-367 

560 

98 

114 

174, 308 

308 

346, 351, 

525, 542, 

560, 561 

327, 331 

58, 207 



619-620 

618-620 
605, 608- 
629-631 



397, 
543, 



426, 
545, 



3, 8, 12, 

181, 220 

575-576, 

585 

411, 535 

573 



27, 29 



581, 583, 



561 



East Tech High School, Cleveland 
Eaton, Lou 

Edmunds, Larry, Cinema and Theatre 

Book Shop 
Edmunds, Mrs. Larry 



30, 32 

555-556 

189, 432-433, 473, 



474-475 
473 



492 



641 



Ehrlich, Cema Epstein 

Eisenhower, Dwight D. 
Elder, Paul, & Company, San 

Francisco 
Ellis Island, New York 
Elstein, Herbert 
Elstein, Saul 
Elstein, Steve 
Embassy Auditorium 
Encyclopedia Britanni ca 
Encyclopedia of Music (Thomson) 
Epstein, Aaron 



Epstein, Ann Goldman 



Epstein, Ben 



Epstein, Cema 

see Ehrlich, Cema Epstein 
Epstein, Eugene 



Epstein, Lillian (Mrs, 

Epstein, Morris 

Epstein, Moses 

Epstein, Mrs. Moses 

Epstein, Reuben 



Ben) 



8, 27-28, 

102, 181 

249 

80, 202 

14, 112 

396 

396 

396 

429 

96 

537 

17, 

144 

215 

273 

278 

328 

549 

597 

606 

621-622 

18, 46, 



89, 98-99, 



110, 
166, 182 
221, 266 
274-275, 
310, 313 
357, 369 
556, 565 
600-601, 
607, 616 
629 
73, 7 



133-135, 

209, 
271- 
276, 



89, 100, 
133, 164- 
271-273, 
295, 309, 
485, 555, 
573, 588, 
622 

8, 12, 
27, 31 
40, 43 
73-74, 



110, 
165, 
278-279 



322, 
547, 
594- 
603, 
619, 

i, 83, 

111, 

182, 



415, 
561, 
593, 



456, 
572, 
621- 



16, 
, 32, 
, 44, 

183, 



22, 

34, 
46, 
186 



24, 

38, 

70, 

, 187 



188, 
197, 
221, 



221, 
278, 
595, 



192-193, 194- 



198 
224 



209, 
298, 



218- 
384 



272-273, 
328, 357 
621, 622 



276, 
547 



34, 195-196 

8 

10 

10 

2-3, 7, 8, 

17, 20-21, 

27, 30-31, 



12, 27, 31, 218 



13, 16- 

24-26, 

34-38, 



642 



Epstein, Reuben [cont'd] 



Epstein, Sprishe Sorkin 



Epstein, Yetta (Helen) 

Epstein's Book Shop 

see Acadia Book Shop 

Long Beach Book Store 
Epstein's, Louis, Book Shop, Long 

Beach 
Epstein's, Louis, Book Shop, Los 

Angeles 



Essex Institute 

Everybody's Used Book, Music, & 
Magazine Shop 



40-42, 44, 47, 48- 

50, 80, 111, 135- 

136, 149, 159, 164, 

168-169, 219-222, 

271, 278, 296 

3, 7-8, 16, 34-35, 

38, 42, 149, 159, 

164-165, 181, 219, 

271 

3, 12, 27, 32, 38, 

40, 46, 181, 197 



185-186 



78, 

102-103 

112, 

155, 

166, 

196, 

294, 

332, 

430, 

555, 

244 

396 



81-86, 90-98 



106, 109- 
115, 121, 124, 
158, 159, 163- 
172a, 182-184, 
201, 241, 255, 
297, 303, 



382, 396 
439-440, 
561 



331- 
406, 
544- 



Factor, Max 

Fanny Hill (Cleland) 

Farrar Rinehart 

Faulkner, William 

Federated Department Stores 

Feldman, Dan 

Feuchtwanger , Lion 

Feuchtwanger , Marta 

Field, Irwin 

Figueroa Bookshop 

Firestein, Max 

Fiske, Verne 

Fitzgerald, F. Scott 

Flax, M. , Inc . 

Folio, The, Book Shop 

Ford Motor Corporation 

Fowler Brothers, Inc. 



281 

353, 

575 

330-331 

33-34 

71 



355, 356 



322, 
324 
283 
262 

281 
62, 



324 



63 



329-330 
385, 386 
427 
606 
51, 62, 



114, 116 



643 



Fowler Brothers [cont'd] 



Fowler, Ward 

Foy, Eddie 

Freedman, Louis 

Freeson, Lee 

Freeson, Margo 

Friend, John 

Friends of the UCLA Library 

Front, Theodore 



563, 

242 

563 



140, 

243, 

423, 

241, 

246, 

275 

531-533, 

492-497, 

493-494, 

61, 124 

522 

520-521 



153, 157 
245-246, 



573 
243, 



561 
513 

497 



341- 
248, 

245- 



Gable, Clark 
Gallaher, P.W. 
Cans, Mr, 



Cans' Book Store 
Gardiner, Harry 
Gardner Avenue School 
Garland, W.M. 
Gaskill, Betty 
Gateway to Music 
Gertzwey, F. 
Getz, Ben 
Getz, Robert E. 

Gibson, James Patterson 

Gilbert, Eddie 

Gilbert, Eddie, Bookstore 

Gladstone, Milton 

Goha the Fool (Ades and Jasapovicha) 

Golden Bough Bookstore 

Goldenberg, Roy 

Goldfaden, Goodwin 

Goldstone, Phil 

Goldwater, Pearl 

Goiter, Irma 

Goiter, Rose 

Goiter, Sam 

Gone with the Wind (film) 

Goodhand, Hazel B. 

Goodhand, Milton 

Goodwill Industries 

Gordon, Mary 

Gordon, Nicholas McDowell ("Mac") 

Gordon, Mrs. Nicholas 



302 
481 
264 
264 

67, 101, 147-148 

273 

113 

554-555 

437 

446 

597, 599 

597-607, 609-610, 

625-626 

230 

206, 420 

206 

212-213 

62 

261 

71 

428 

274-275, 281 

156, 202 

276 

276 

276 

302, 406-407 

420 

420 

54, 68, 148 

419-420 

136-137, 153a, 166- 

168, 206, 433 

206 



644 



Gordon, Wilmot 
Gore, Marian L. 
Gottlieb, Ernest 

Grady, Mr. 

Greenspan, 
Grosset & 
Guerin, 



Ernie 
Dunlap, Inc, 
Arthur S. 
Guild Rental Library 
Gutenberg Bible 



560 

521-522 

451, 477-478 

435 

553-554 

557, 560 

346-347 

463-464 

193 



H 



Hagen, Dick 

Hall, Floyd 

Hall of Fame Bookshop 

Halle family 

Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Inc. 

Hardy, Georgiana 

Hardy, Jack 

Harelick, M. 

Harelick and Roth, Booksellers 

Harkema, Lloyd 

Harlem Book Company 

Harline, Lee 

Harline, Mrs. Lee 

Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. 

Harris, Doris, Autographs 

Harvard University 

Haverlin, Carl 

Healy, Ray 

Hearst, William Randolph 



Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society 
Hellman family 
Henry ' s Camera 
Heritage Book Shop 
Hewitt's Book Store 
Hiawatha (Longfellow) 
Hill, Fred 
Hill, Harry 
Hillside Park 
Hirsch, Berril 
Hispano-American Book Shop 
History of Costume (Racinet) 
Hitler, Adolf 



(HIAS) 



542 



612-613 

578 

230 

18 

541, 

564 

564 

438-439, 

463 

403-404, 

439, 

217, 

551 

482, 484 

482 

526-529, 

559, 572 

522 

272 

112, 489 

287-289, 

344, 347, 

352 

14-15 

41, 125, 

164 

519 

56, 229 

66 

559 

427-428 

77 

29 

427 

94 

78, 

514 



617 



440-441 



408, 438- 



440-441 
378-380 



555, 557 



535-536 
349, 350, 



598 



267, 280-281, 



645 



Hixon, Charlie 

Hoffman Buick 

Hollander, Bea 

Hollander and Davidson Fine Books 

Hollingsworth, G.F. 

Hollywood Anti-Nazi League 

Hollywood Book Shop 



Hollywood Bowl 
Hollywood High School 
Hollywood Ten 
Hollywood Wax Museum 
Holmes, Harold 
Holmes, Norman C. 



Holmes Book Company, Los Angeles 

Holmes Book Company, San Francisco 
Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc. 
Home of Peace Memorial Park and 

Mausoleum 
Hood, Leslie 
Hoover, Herbert 
Horan, C.F., Bookstore 
Hotel Acacia 
Houghton-Mifflin Company 



House of Whites 

Howard, Miss 

Howell, Fran 
Howes, Wright 
Howey, Ralph 
How to Win Friends 



and Influence 



People (Carnegie) 
Hoyt, Larry, family 
Hunley, Max 
Hunley Theatre 
Hunt, Pat 
Hunter ' s Books 
Huxley, Aldous 
Huxley, Julian 
Huxley, Laura 
Huxley, Matthew 
Huxley family 



140, 
205, 
432 



241-242 

255 

262 

262-263 

522-523 

474 

117, 

201, 

413, 

107 

273-274 

307, 470 

369 

65, 

58, 

96, 

149, 

260, 



145, 
231, 



200, 
412- 



473-474 



409, 
51 



126-127, 128 
59-61, 64-65, 
126-136, 148- 
224-225, 255, 
296, 298, 405, 
463, 482, 504 
126-136, 238, 
259-260 
65, 126-127 
538 
76 

573, 594 

365 

231 

66 

227, 415-417, 525, 

533-534 

226-227 

457-460 

543-544 

91 

78-79, 159, 163 

48 



609 
64, 
452 
166 
156 



451, 455, 477 



215, 609 



331-334 

335 

334 

334-335 

334-335 



646 



Immaculate Heart College 337-339 

Informatio n, Please (radio program) 219 

Ingraham, Mr. 141 

International Bookfinders 523 

Intro, Sol 292 

Iron Curtain o ver America (Beatty) 359 

Isherwood, Christopher 335 

J 



Jamison, David 
Jeffers, Robinson 

The Cal ifornian 
Jenkins, Colonel 
Jenkins, Mr. 



Jewish American Book Shop 

Jewish Consumptive Relief Associa- 
tion of Los Angeles 

Jewish Federation Council of 
Greater Los Angeles 

Jewish Home for the Aged 

Johannes Secundus 

John Birch Society 

Johnson, Charlie 
Johnson, Mrs. Charlie 
Jones Book Stores 



Jordan-Smith, Paul 
Julian, C.C. 

K 



250-251 

246 

246-247 

71 

224 

264 



403, 408, 433 



76, 196, 277 
75, 279 



76, 277 

354 



360-362, 470- 
540-541 



357 

471 

538 

540 

62-63, 116, 117, 

140, 150, 152-153, 

231 

118, 464 

73 



Kahn, Alan 
Kaplan, Carolyn 
Kaspare Cohn Hospital 

see Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 
Kates, Arthur 
Katzev, Johiel 
Kazan, Elia 
Kellogg, George 
Kent, Rockwell 
Klein, Keith 
Klein, Lloyd 
Klein, Robert 
Klein, Robert, Jr. 



628-629 
524 



49 

48-49 

634-635 

557 

139 

276 

276 

275-276 

276 



647 



Klonsky, Robert 
Knight, Goodwin 
Knopf, Alfred A., Inc. 
Kohn, Dave 
Kohn, "Soldier Joe" 
Korach Company, Chicago 
Kosick, Helen 

Kovach, Mr. 

Kovach, Nick A. 

Kubel, Phil 
Kurman, Eleanor 
Kurman, Stanley 
Kuttner, Henry 
Kuttner, Paul 



465-468 

472 

525, 551 

121-123, 

120-121 

35 

560, 561 

252 

251-252, 

491 

155 

469 

469 

226 

225-226, 



268, 433 



482, 488- 



262 



Lacey, Madison 
Lafayette Escadrille 
Lamport, Paul 

Lanchester, Elsa 
Larson, John R. 
Larson, Louise (Mrs. 
Larson's Bookshop 
Latting, Ben 
Laughton, Charles 
Lawrence, Wes 
Lawyer, David 
Lawyer, Harry 
Lazard family 
Lazarus, Mr. 



John) 



Lee Drug Company 
Lengfeld, Lew 
Leonard, C.C. 
Leonard, Elliot 

Leonard's Bookstore 
Leusler, Harrison 



Levine, 
Levine, 
Levine, 
Levine, 



Abe 

Mrs. Abe 
Henry 
Phil 



Levinson, Harry 
Levinson, Mrs. Harry 
Lewis family 
Lewis Bookstore 



336 

241 

207-208, 368-370, 

424-425 

316 

421, 497-498 



421-422, 

421-422, 

377, 379 

315-317 

20 

238-241 

505 

598 

33-34 

273 



498 
497-498 



609, 
435 
386, 
589, 



633 



117-118 

416-417 

553 

274 

274 

273 

273 

449-450 

450 

77 

608 



578-579, 
616, 620 
145 



581, 
628 



533-534 



455, 477 



648 



Life (periodical) 

Lillie, Mildred L. 

Lincoln, Abraham 

Lincoln Bookshop 

Lippincott, J.B., Co. 

Little, A.E. 

Little, Brown & Co. 

Lofland, Fred 

Lofland and Russell Bookstore 

London Times Literary Supplement 

(periodical) 
Long Beach Book Store 
Long Beach Press- Te legram 

(newspaper) 
Lord, R.C. 

Los Angeles Daily N ews (newspaper) 
Los Angeles Examine r (newspaper) 
Los Angeles Library Association 
Los Angeles News (newspaper) 
Los Angeles News Company 
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra 
Los Angeles Public Library 

Los Angeles Times (newspaper) 



Lovejoy, Dr. 



Luboviski, Milton 



466 

346-348 

3 

419-420, 467 

538, 542, 559 

138-139 

525 

139, 350 

51, 58, 69, 139, 255, 

350, 414, 417 

89 

51-57, 228-230, 252 
55 

153a. 164 
592-594 



350 
632 



Luboviski, Mrs, 
Lyon's Storage 



Milton 



347, 

462, 

178 

169, 

410, 

57, 

158, 

69, 

215, 

549 

243-245 

432, 464, 

474-476, 

516-517 

473 

84 



552, 560 

457-458, 
109, 120, 

237 
118, 137, 

241, 347 



573 
460 
157- 

210, 

, 464 



472-473, 
492, 493, 



M 



McCarty Company 
McCarthy, Joseph 
McCullough, Bill 
MacDonald, Bob 
McDowell, Jack 
McGilvery, Laurence 
McGraw-Hill Book Co. 
Maclntyre, Carlyle 
Mack family 

McKay, David, Co., Inc. 
Macmillan Company, The 

McPherson, Aimee Semple 



105 

357 

553 

552 

466 

524 

555 

82-83 

275 

525, 

462, 

578 

252 



550 

525, 531-533, 



649 



Maher, Bill 
Mahler, Alma 
Handle, Sol 
Handle, Mrs. Sol 
Mann, Herman 

Mann, Thomas 
Markowitz, David 
Markowitz, Morris 
Markowitz, Sarah 

see Borden, Sarah 
Marriner, Willard 

Marriner's Stationers and Bookseller 
Marshall, Richard 

Marshall Field & Company 
Martindale, Etta L. (Mrs. Walter W. ) 
Marindale, Richard 

Martindale, Virginia (Mrs. VJalter) 
Martindale, Walter 



Martindale, Walter W. 
Martindale, William 
Martindale family 
Martindale 's Book Stores, Inc. 

Martindale ' s , William, Book Store, 

Santa Monica 
Masquers 
Maxton, Ron 
May Company 



Melander, Kurt 

Merriam, G. & C, Company 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 

Meyer, Eldred 

Miller, Jesse Ray 

Miller, Joni 

Miller, Paul Burt 

Miller's Books and Stationery 

Mirsky, E. 
Mitchell, Ed 
Mitchell, Joe 
Mittenthal, Joe 
Moby Dick Book Shop 



561 
320 

282 

282 

176, 345-347, 350, 

375-377 

320 

235-236 

234-236, 269 



573 

573 

103-104, 124 

384, 400-401 

484-485 

398 

230, 398 
399, 400 

231, 395 
426, 563 



382- 



396-400, 
573, 611, 



633 

396-397, 
230, 398 
396-400 



215 

397, 

398 



230, 
400, 



398 



300 
423 



396- 
426 



402 

234 

155, 156 

360, 544 

599-600, 

625-626 

498-499 

389, 484 

300 

322-323 

232-234 

628 



202 

549 

605, 



560 



242, 
597, 
610, 



414 
205 
432 



234, 

200, 

414, 

155 

283 

283 

394 

252-257, 



232-234 



264, 407 



650 



Modern Library (Random House) 

Mohr, Richard 

Mohr, Mrs. Richard 

Morrow, William, & Co. , Inc. 

Moss, Ted 

Mottola, Jim 

Musso & Frank Grill 



536 
523 

523 
525 
561 
555 
171 
448 



537 



261 
605 



308, 330 



N 



Nash, Charles 
Natick Book Store 
National Book Award 
National Book Week 
National Cash Registers 
National Geographic (periodical) 
Natural History (Pliny) 
Needham, Ida 

Needham, Wilbur 

Needham Book Finders 

Neuman, Walter E. 

Neville Book Company 

Newbegin's, San Francisco 

Newmark, Harris 

Newmark family 

New York Bookstore 

New York Herald Tribune (newspaper) 

New York Times (newspaper) 

Nielsen, O.C. 

Nin, Anais 

Nixon, Richard 



128-129 



Noonan, 
Nourse, 
Nourse, 
Nourse, 
Novins, 
Novins , 



Everett 

Floyd 

Jim 

Jim, Jr. 

Roman 

Mrs. Roman 



Noyes, Dick 
Noyes, Mrs. Dick 
Nussbaum, Max 



148 



64, 

140 

580 

580 

102 

53, 

354 

432, 464, 

473, 492 

464-465, 

472 

464-465, 

477-478 

140 

80, 202 

75 

77, 598 

234-235, 

19 

19, 596 

263, 400 

325-328, 

348-349 

564 

550, 551, 

550-551 

550, 551, 



469, 472- 



467-470, 



467-470 



261 



385-386 



558 



455, 

501 

586, 

586 

282 



558 
500-501 

627 







O'Connor, Bill 
O'Connor, C.H. 
O'Connor, Frank 



71 

71, 
71 



98-101, 110 



651 



O'Dell, Scott 

O'Hara, George 

Ohio Jobbing Company 

Ohio State University 
Hillel 

Menorah Society 
Order of the Coif 

Old Book Shop 

O'Leary, Jack 

Olive Street Synagogue 

One (periodical) 

O'Neill, Eugene 

Open Book Shop 

Orth, Mr. 

Orth Storage 

Osborne's Book Store, Santa 
Barbara 

Otis Art Institute 

Outlet Publishing Company 

Oxford University Press 



592-594 

561, 575-576 

49 



32-34, 

33 

33 

39 

231 

561 

76 

457 

309 

231 

84-87 

84-87 

247 

264, 

553 

560 



39, 222 



404, 427 



Paddock, Paddy 

Paradise Book and Stationery Shop 

Paramount Studios 

Parker, C.C. 

Pegue, Unity 

Pelican Books 

Penguin Books 

Penguin Bookshop 

People's Bookstore 

Perkins, P.D. 

Perkins, P.D. and lone, bookstore 

Phipps, Fillmore 

Pick, Richard J. 

Pick's Book Shop 

Pickwick Book Shop, Hollywood 



573 



571, 
427 

299-300 
304 
51, 62, 



301, 302- 



67, 116 



157, 203, 260 

118-119, 120, 145 

343 

343 

227 

467 

460-461 

460-461 

230 

573 

573 

5, 37, 47-49, 55, 

65, 106-107, 118, 

140, 144, 146-147, 

153a, 165, 172a, 

174-176, 191, 194- 



195, 
274, 
409, 
418, 
426, 
468, 



200-218, 264, 
287, 294-394, 
412, 414-417, 
420, 423, 424- 
439-440, 465- 
499-500, 519, 



652 



Pickwick Book Shop, Hollywood 
[cont'dj 



Bakersf ield 

Carlsbad 

Northridge 

San Bernardino 

San Diego (Mission Valley 
Center) 

Topanga Plaza 
see also B. Dalton, Bookseller 
Pi ckwic k Papers, The (Dickens) 
Pike, Jim 
Pinans, Juan 
Pinans, Mrs. Juan 
Pioneer Bookshop 
Placht, Karl 
Ponger, Eddie 
Pottenger, Francis M. 
Poulson, Norris 
Powell, Lawrence Clark 

Vroman ' s of Pasadena (book) 
Powner ' s Bookstore 

Prentice-Hall, Inc. 

Price, Tone 

Pritchard, Virginia Cole 

Procopius 

Publisher' s Weekly (periodical) 

Putnam's, G.P., Sons 

R 

Rabalette News and Book Agency 
Random House, Inc. 

Raymar Book Company 
Red Arrow Service 
Reese, Mr. 



Reiser, Marie (Mrs. Sam) 

Reiser, Sam 

Reiser, Sam, Bookstore 
Reiser, Samuel, Bookseller 
Republican party 
Research Magazine and Book Shop 
Retail Clerks International 
Association, Local 777 



563, 565, 
594-624, 
628-631, 



524-561, 

581, 587, 

625-626, 

634-635 

606 

606 

604 

606 

606-607 



597-606, 607, 608 

500 

550 

487 

487 

261 

410-411, 561, 590 

556 

46 

366 

82, 123, 250 

250 

51 

206 

552 

234 

94-96 

354 

55, 56-57 

199, 574, 

550 



58, 136-137 



146, 
582 



178 



536, 546-548 



542-544 



422 

525, 

578 

213, 

325 

457-460 

185, 186-187 

191 

179-191, 

218, 231 

189 

188, 

362 

263 

466 



195, 
261 



188- 

198, 
432 



191 
472 



653 



Reynolds, Bill 
Reynolds, Jack E. 
Ripley, Elizabeth 
Ritchie, Ward, Press 
Robinson, Edward G. 
Robinson's department store 

Rogart, Geof 
Rogers, Warren 
Rogers Book Shop 
Roosevelt, Franklin D. 

Rose, Mr. 

Rose, Stanley 



Rose, Mrs. Stanley 
Rose, Stanley, bookstore 

Ross, Lillian 
Rossen, Charlie 
Roth, Jack 
Royer, Mel 



Rubber, Viola 
Rubin, Mel 
Ruby, John 
Ruick, Virgil 
Russell, Mr. 
Russo, Tony 



559-560 

450 

94-95 

544 

172 

138, 155-156, 410, 

422 

628 

140-144 

238 

365 

173-174 

153a, 166-168, 169- 

179, 189, 201, 205- 

206, 224, 257, 261, 

336, 413 

173-174, 179 

168, 171-172a, 205- 

206 

179 

282-283 

438 

64, 217, 



452, 477, 

305 

466 

263-264 

248-250 

139 

381-382 



442-444, 
501-502 



573 



St. Vibiana's 

Salop, Mr. 

Salop, Max 
Salop, Morris 



Salop, Mrs. Morris 
Salvation Army 
Salzman, Charles 
Samuels, Louis 
Saroyan, William 
Satyr Book Shop 



Schuberg, Bill 
Schulberg, Budd 
Schwarz, Kurt 
Schwarz, Martha 



Cathedral 



231 

267 

266-267, 270 

266-267, 268, 269- 

270 

269 

54, 148 

442, 491-492 

227 

172 

136-137, 153a, 166, 

168, 200, 205, 206, 

231, 433 

53 

172 

455-457, 524 

456-457 



654 



0. 



Schwarz, Thomas 

Scioscia, Frank 

Scott, Adrian 

Scott, Lee 

Scribner ' s Book Store, New York 

Scribner's, Charles, Sons 

Scripps family 

Sears Roebuck 

Selznick, David 

Senn, Milton 

Serisawa, Nakuro 

Severe, Gladys (Mrs, Lloyd) 

Severe, Lloyd 

Shafer, Isadore 

Shelton, Dickson L. 

Shelton, Harry 

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, Baltnis 

& Hampton 
Shorey Book Store, Seattle 
Shuman, Bill 
Shuman, Mrs. Bill 
Simon, Norton 
Simon and Schuster, Inc. 
Sinaiko, Isaac 
Sinaiko, Joan 
Sinaiko, Ruth 
Singer Company, The 
Sister Mary Faith 
Smalley, Carl 
Smith, Bertrand 
Smith, Bill 
Smith, Gerald L.K. 
Smith, Harry 
Smith, Olen W. 
Smith, Ron 

Smith, Roy see 
Smith, Wilbur J. 
Soldier Joe 

see Kohn, "Soldier Joe" 
Solomon, E. 
Solomon's Hebrew and English 

Bookstore 
Sorkin, Itzchak 
Sorkin, Mrs. Itzchak 
Sotheby Parke Bernet 



557 



423-424 
394, 560 



456 

555, 

307 

573 

237, 

227, 

485 

594 

406 

358-359 

444 

402, 572 

401, 402-403, 412, 

571, 572 

285-286 

81, 165-166, 183 

573 

466 

447 

53, 252-257 

256 

217-218 



536 

277 

277 

277 

578 

337 

534-535 

446-448 

394-395 

359 

48, 559, 

137 

211-213, 

549 

581 

118 



407 

407-408, 



556-557 
283 



561 



545-546, 



433, 438 



10 

10 
632 



655 



Southern California Booksellers 
Association 

Membership Committee 
Publicity Committee 
Publishers Relations Committee 
Southern California Historical 

Society 
Spanish Bookstore 

Sparkletts Drinking Water Corpora- 
tion 
Spearman's bookstore 
Specialist , The (Sale) 
S.S. Cedric (ship) 
Stackhouse, Ed ("Stack") 



Stansberry, Ray 

Stansberry, Mrs. Ray 

Steinbeck, John 

Steinberg, Bill 

Stevenson, Peggy 

Stevenson, Robert 

Storm, John 

Storm, Mrs. John 

Strassberg, Max 

Stratford and Greene bookstore 

Straude, Odo 
Stravinsky, Igor 
Stravinsky, Vera 
Strieker, Thomas Perry 
Stuart, Errett 
Stuart, Jeff 
Stuart, Terry 
Studio Bookstore 
Sunset News Company 



204-205, 

402, 412 

573 

573 

573 

451 



444, 486-487 
460-461 



427 

167 

12 

130, 131 

296, 313 

341, 342 



248-251, 
562-573 



176, 
336, 
374, 
409, 
595, 
629 



386-387, 

415, 416 

616, 619 

346-347 

347 

472 

427 

283 

283 

552 

552 

282 

62-63, 140, 150- 

151, 163 

117 

325 

325 

106-108, 112 

544-545, 550-551 

545 

545 

433 

48, 172a 



178, 
340, 
375, 
414, 
607, 



Taylor, Joseph H. 

Frontier and Indian Life 
Technical Book Company 
Tecolote Bookshop, Santa Barbara 
Temple Beth Am 
Temple Beth El 
Temple Israel 



229-230 

263, 444-445, 

87-88 

403 

278 

77, 276-279 



461 



656 



Temple Sinai 

Thomas, Jessie 

Thompson, Guy 

Thor ' s Book and Magazine Shop 

Todd, John W. , Jr. 

To Have and to Hold (Johnson) 

Twentieth Century-Fox Studios 



76 

138 

377-378 

261 

447 

496 

300 



U 



Union Bank 

United Jewish Welfare Fund 



United States Bank 

U.S. Constitution 

U.S. Federal Trade Commission 

U.S. Supreme Court 

University of California, 

Berkeley 
University of California, Los 

Angeles 

Special Collections, Library 
University of Oklahoma Press 
University of Paris 
University of Southern California 



597-599 



78, 

282 

517, 

41 

193 

568, 



277, 278 
284-293 
536 



626 



279, 

514- 



348-349 
404 



106, 

257, 

522, 

118, 

535 

454 

232, 



114, 
324, 
555, 
463 



118, 

454, 
594 



195, 
463, 



324, 475 



V 



Valentine, John 
Varousis, Mr. 



Ver Brugge, Josephine 

Ver Brugge Books 

Verne's Hollywood Book Shop 

Viking Press 

Vista Del Mar 

Vosper, Robert 

Vroman's bookstore 



481 
321 

265-266, 404, 501 

404 

262 

525, 545, 551 

278 

195 

138, 210, 250-251, 

401-402, 423, 542- 

543, 549, 563, 571- 

572, 573, 594 



W 



Wahrenbrock, Bill 
Walden bookstores 
Walker, Max 
Walker Book Shop 



254-255, 256 
609, 625, 626 



115, 
66 



268, 457 



657 



Wallace, Jim 

Ward, Esrae 

Warner Brothers 

Warner Brothers Records 

Warren, Earl 

Washington Post (newspaper) 

Watson-Guptill Publications 

Weatherby, Allan 

Webb, Bill 

Weil, Albert 

Weinstein, Ben 

Bob 

Jerry 

Louis 



Wemstem, 
Weinstein , 
Weinstein, 



Weiss , 
We i s s , 
Weisz , 
Weisz , 
Weisz , 
Wepplo, 



Mr. 

William 
David 

Mrs. David 
Mike 
Harry 



Wepplo, Harry, Bookstore 

Werfel, Franz 

Westerners, Los Angeles Corral 

Wettereau, Robert 

Wettereau, Mrs. Robert 

Wheeler, Mr. 

Wheeler, Allan H. 

Wheeler Publishing Company 

Whiffin, C.U. 

White, Miss 

White, Mr, 

Whittier Book Shop 
Wilkie, Bob 
Williams College 
Wilson, Edmund 

Memoirs of Hecate County 

Wolfe, Thomas 

Woodruff, Raymone (Mrs. Stu) 

Woodruff, Stu 

Woodfurr Book Store 

World Book Company 

World Health Organization 

World News Company 

World Publishing Company 

Wright, Frank Lloyd 



542 

145, 153a 

605 

543 

364, 472 

19 

558 

412-413, 414, 432 

83, 557-558 

71 

519-520 

520 

520 

519-520 

225 

420-421 

168, 169 

169 

168 

139-140, 

414-417, 

414 

320 

450-451, 

384-386 

384 

227 

227 

227-228 

102 

226-227 

226 

573 

561 

240 

344 



350-351, 
420 



481 



352 
344-352, 
414, 420 
172 
544 
224, 
224 
542, 
334 
427 
389 
262 



354, 375 



542-544 



555-556, 561 



658 



Yale, Bud (Charlie, Jr.) 
Yale, Charlie 



Ye Olde Book Shoppe, Long Beach 

Ye Olde Book Shoppe, San Diego 

Yorty, Sain 

Yost, Otis 

Young Men's Christian Association 



462-463, 
61, 124, 
479, 483 
505 
229 

253-254 
366, 369 
571-572, 
179, 184 



483 

461-463, 
502, 504, 



573 



Zainboni , Karl 
Zamboni, Mrs. Karl 
Zeitlin, Jake 



Zeitlin, Edith (Mrs. Jake) 
Zeitlin, Jean (Mrs. Jake) 
Zeitlin, Josephine Ver Brugge 

(Mrs. Jake) 
Zilberstein, Oscher 
Zweig, Arnold 



225, 

482 

64, 

156, 

245, 



230, 482, 484 



264-266, 

405, 

482, 

515, 

257, 



1, 107 
162-163, 
257-261, 
268, 
455, 
501, 



454 
484 
518 
259 



108, 
166, 

262-263, 
404- 

480, 

504, 



257 
265-266, 

24 
320 



404, 501 



659 



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