Monday, July 9, 2012

Publishers Join the Victory Book Campaign

In WWII publishers donated their books to the troops, and they used dust jackets to encourage readers to donate their own.

In 1942 and 1943 the national Victory Book Campaign raised books to donate to men in the armed forces (see previous post). Campaign organizers invited individuals from the book publishing industry to join their efforts. The Publishers Committee was formed within the VBC to solicit and organize publisher donations. It also encouraged book publishers to create public awareness for the Victory Book Campaign. Accordingly, the nation's book publishers promoted the VBC in magazine ads, and they printed notices on dust jackets encouraging readers to donate the book after reading. I found a few examples online:

Steinbeck's The Moon is Down, Viking, 1942. It promotes the book drive on the back cover.
From the University of Virginia Library.
Back flap and back cover of Where the Storm Broke, Roy Publishers, 1942. The bottom of the flap has a little ad suggesting the reader mail the finished book directly to someone in the military. From the NYPL.
Back flap and back cover of Murder Calling "50", Crime Club, 1942. This back flap encourages the reader to both buy war bonds and donate their book after reading. From the NYPL.

The Victory Book Campaign's nine-person Publishers Committee was composed of:

Frederic G. Melcher, Chairman of the committee, editor of Publisher's Weekly,
and President of R.R. Bowker [the magazine's publisher]
Lee Barker, salesman/editor at Houghton Mifflin & Company
Louis Green, at Publishers Weekly
Robert M. Coles, President of the American Booksellers Association
John M. Connor, Assistant Director of the Victory Book Campaign
Philip Hodge, Farrar & Rinehart
Aaron Sussman, Speir & Sussman [a publishing advertising firm]
Thomas Burns, Doubleday Doran
Albert Leventhal, Vice President at Simon & Schuster
In 1942 100,000 copies of mystery paperbacks were donated by The American Mercury, a magazine published by A.A. Knopf. The Collier Company donated 30,000 copies of their references books. The MacMillan Company, Minton Balch, Scribner's, and Yale University Press donated their books. Neither the exact numbers from each of these individual publishers, nor the total number donated by publishers were recorded in the VBC Final Report.

In 1943 a total of 200,000 books were donated by American publishers. The American Mercury added 10,000 books to their previous year's donation. Pocket Books, Inc. donated over 60,000 of their books. Pocket Books was a mass market paperback publisher founded by Dick Simon, Max Schuster, and Robert Fair de Graff in 1939. The Book of the Month club supplied 57,500 books.

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