Publisher Pierre Belfond is dead

Who was able to buy for a million and a dollar a book of which not a line was written? Pierre Belfond. The story takes place in 1988. The heirs of Margaret Mitchell have decided to give a sequel to Gone with the wind, so as not to lose the rights to the famous pre-war bestseller. The auctions are global and after several rounds in France, only two publishers remain in the running: Robert Laffont and Pierre Belfond. The latter wins, thanks to the added dollar bill. Robert Laffont had made an offer of one million and Pierre Belfond had anticipated it.

A million plus a dollar for 500 white pages, the bet was daring or crazy. In order not to lose money on this operation, Pierre Belfond, who died on Tuesday May 24, at the age of 88, at his home in La Celle-Saint-Cloud (Yvelines), had to sell at least 300,000 copies in bookstores, 500,000 in pocket and a million in clubs. Pierre Belfond and his wife Franca, who has supported him since the creation of their house in 1963, had done and redone the calculations. In September 1991, when it appeared Scarlettby Alexandra Ripley, this long-awaited sequel, written by an unknown, will be a real success of curiosity, with 470,000 copies sold in three months and, in fact, the book will be a white operation for Belfond.

The base for management rule

But in the meantime, Pierre Belfond is no longer the owner of the house that bears his name, nor of the small group he has formed around it, with the subsidiaries (Presses de la Renaissance, Pré aux clercs, Chemin vert, Acropole). Everything was sold in January to the medical publisher Masson, already a shareholder since 1989. It was the collapse of a house of cards for this unrepentant player who had erected nerve as a rule of management.

Pierre Belfond publishes rose water texts to finance more ambitious projects

Nothing originally predisposed Pierre Belfond, born August 25, 1933, in Paris, to embark on a career in publishing. He had studied law and his wife Franca, biology, but during the twenty-nine months spent in Algeria for his military service, Franca, who had accompanied him, worked in a bookstore. On their return, in a 40 m2rue Guisarde, in the 6and district of Paris, their idea is to reissue classics that cannot be found, in a unique “Pocket Club” collection and at a low price. It goes from Songs of Maldororfrom Lautréamont, to yellow cupidsfrom Tristan Corbière, via The Last Day of a condemned man, by Victor Hugo.

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