In early 2000, Leonard Kessler got a letter from Jill Morgan. Then he got another copy. And another.
Morgan was a former software engineer and young mother with an entrepreneurial dream: She wanted to publish out-of-print children’s books, starting with her own childhood favorite, Kessler’s Mr. Pine’s Purple House. First published in 1965, it had gone out of print in the early 1970s, leaving baby boomers like Morgan bereft of Mr. Pine’s bedtime charms when their own children came along.
Morgan had done some work tracking down out-of-print books for clients and found a particular interest in kids’ books, which often commanded high prices. Old copies of Mr. Pine were selling for $100 to $200 on Ebay. “I would see dealers buying it on Ebay and turning around and selling it on bookselling sites for $300,” says Morgan. There had to be a market for new versions.
So she sent Kessler letters at every address she could find—his publisher, the Authors Guild, and (after an Internet search) his home in Florida. She said she had loved the book as a child. Would he take a chance on her new venture?
Kessler, now 86, was thrilled. “What publisher really loves the book that they publish?” he says. “I said, ‘It’s yours.’ And she took off. She changed my life. She brought me back to life again.”