Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Books
Scope and Contents
Emanuel Haldeman-Julius began publishing Little Blue Books in 1919. He had written for several Socialist newspapers and edited the APPEAL TO REASON, a national Socialist weekly, before he launched the publication of his inexpensive paperback books. Till his deather in 1951, he issued some two thousand titles in the series, which ranged from THE RUBAIYAT, his first Little Blue Book, to HOW TO PSYCHOANALYZE YOURSELF, THE LIFE OF JESUS, and Schaopenhauer's ART OF CONTROVERSY. It is estimated that over 300 million copies were sold at a cost of five to ten cents each.
Haldeman-Julius was a marketing genius, taking the mailing list of the declining APPEAL and using it to promote books that were unabashedly inexpensive. A "free-thinker," he began by duplicating books from his personal collection, which ironically consisted largely of classics. Many of these titles were renamed to appeal to the masses. Because he believeD his customers wanted "instrumental knowledge." ART OF CONTROVERSY became HOW TO ARGUE LOGICALLY. Because a little prurience did not hurt anything, de Maupassant's THE TALLOW BALL became A FRENCH PROSTITUTE'S SACRIFICE. To keep his prices low, Haldeman-Julius developed techniques for inexpensive printing and quick reprinting. Finally, he maintained an ongoing dialogue with his readers, first through the APPEAL, then through the more personal AMERICAN FREEMAN, which served as a vehicle for his advice and opinions. Haldeman-Julius's Little Blue Books hold an interesting place in the history of American book publishing and shed a fascinating light on the development of popular culture in the period between the the two World Wars.
- Record Keeping: 1984
3 boxes (Included in the collection are 22 packages of "little" blue books marked A-V with contents not related to the alphabet. There are also 38 packages of "larger" books and 14 separates, many by Joseph G. McCabe.)
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