Oftentimes, the success or failure of a business endeavor is determined by forces entirely outside human control. For example, dismal failure of the BananaPhone can only be attributed to the hand of Fate. I mean, everyone agrees that when you see a person talking on a cell phone the first thing you think is, “That guy looks like he’s about to eat a futuristic banana! That’s CRAZY!” So, logically speaking, a cell phone that periodically sprays the user in the mouth with a fine, banana-flavored mist would be a huge success, right? But the hand of Fate extended its middle finger, and the BananaPhone sank into obscurity.
The hand of Fate can also be beneficial to a business endeavor. When we launched Cardinal Books and Novelties in 1936, we hoped only to ride the wave of sensationalistic pulp publishing that was so popular – and profitable – during that era. And don’t be mistaken, many of our titles sold well, chief among them I Was a Teenage Dope Fiend and Vampire, Manprodder!, Den of the Lesbian Knitters, and Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Murderers. But by 1952, McCarthyism had taken its toll on Cardinal Books and Novelties, and the pro-Communism tone of titles like Capitalist Child-Eaters Want to Eat Your Children and The Communist Manifesto 2: Proletariat Booagloo, nearly put us out of business.
But the hand of Fate had other plans, delivering unto us a letter from the estate of G.K. Chesterton. Obviously mistaking our publishing house for the similarly-named Cardinal Catholic Books and Rosaries, the estate requested the creation of a new series of novels based on Chesterton’s beloved priest-cum-detective, Father Brown. Within a week we stuck a contract with the estate and got to work.
The success of the new Father Brown series led to other religiously-inspired titles – The Manhandling Snakehandler, Zoroastrian Pajama Party, Bring’em Young Brigham Young – all of which kept the coffers of Cardinal Books and Novelties well-stocked. But in 1988, Fate showed its hand again, this time in the form of a Cat Stevens-issued fatwa against Cardinal Books for publishing Boy in the Burqa: My Life as a Muslim Crossdresser. Our publisher went into hiding and Cardinal Books and Novelties shut down.
I suppose one can find a moral here in the words of William Shakespeare, taken from the Cardinal Books edition of Henry VI: “What fates impose, that men must needs abide; It boots not to resist both wind and tide. Now let’s you and me go for a roll in the hay, baby.”