The Readers Club – The Days of the King by Bruno Frank (1942)

October 2, 2011 Comments Off on The Readers Club – The Days of the King by Bruno Frank (1942)

The Days of the King by Bruno Frank (1942)
Foreword by Sinclair Lewis
Artwork – Woodcuts from Adolf von Menzel
Translated by H.T. Lowe-Porter
Exclusive to the Readers Club

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – All Readers Club books came with a dust jacket, but this particular copy is missing its clothes.  The Readers Club seemingly had two logos – one for the front binding that was a little simpler and a second, more complicated piece on the title page.  All of the books I’ve researched and featured a picture of the boards have this on the front, so that makes it easy to find!

Spine – The Macy touch is saved for the spine it seems, as this has a classy one.  Author Bruno Frank, judge Sinclair Lewis and deceased illustrator Adolf von Menzel get some props here, as well as a “RC” to further indicate its “Readers Club” ties.

Editorial Committee of the Readers Club – Before the title page is this announcement of the key figures of the Readers Club (save George Macy).  Clinton Fadiman seemingly was the least involved according to what I’ve found, but the others popped up quite a bit.  Lewis seemed to be the figurehead, despite Alexander Woollcott’s prominence as the Chairman – I’ve seen far more forewords from Lewis in my research than any other.  Since I keep referencing it, here’s my research, BTW.

Title Page – Von Menzel’s illustration leaps out at the reader here, but it seems his part of the book was a rarity to the Readers Club.  Either that or most books lacked that explanation on the binding/dust jacket and most ABEBooks vendors fail to mention them.  Frank’s biographical novel is translated by H.T. Lowe-Porter.

Page XI – My favorite piece of art from this book.

Page 11 – This is nice, too.

Personal Notes – My current book shop employment has this book, but I didn’t buy it due to my overall lack of interest in building up a Readers Club collection (they aren’t as nice as Heritage or LEC titles).  Nice of my boss to lend it to me to document, though!

Of Interest – The Readers Club

September 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

Very much overshadowed by the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press is George Macy’s third venture into book publishing under his George Macy Company umbrella – The Readers Club.  What you are about to read is compiled from many tidbits of information scattered about the web, and the sources will be at the end.

First of all, courtesy of olepuppy at the George Macy Devotees is this meaty bit of information:

A History of Book Publishing in the United States,vol. III, The Golden Age Between Two Wars, 1920-1940 contains several paragraphs about George Macy with references and anecdotes. One paragraph p.504 relates to the Readers Club:

“In March 1941, Macy inaugurated his third venture, the Readers Club, a dollar reprint operation designed to give buyers books that Macy thought had never won the popularity they deserved. Again, other publishers for the most part found little merit in this idea, but Macy persuaded Sinclair Lewis, Clifton Fadiman, Carl Van Doren, and Alexander Woollcott to constitute his board of judges, and on the strength of these names as well as the books they selected, and with the further help of Macy’s high-powered advertising, 140,000 members were enrolled in the first six months. The first selection, E. H. Young’s ‘WILLIAM’, went to 40,000 subscribers. Later choices went as high as an 84,000-member acceptance. As an innovation in book club mechanics, Macy gave his judges one-cent-a-copy royalty for every volume sold.”

From that base, let’s fill in some of the gaps.  Woollcott served as the executive chairperson.  It would seem that the Club printed 45 individual volumes within its timeline (which, alas, I do not know when it met its end – I’d wager 1943, the last year I have in my checklist below).  I do not know with any certainty if letters of some sort or a slipcase were issued with these books – the two I have seen do not have either.  They did come with dust jackets judging by this particular copy of The Last Frontier.  The books are bound in a somewhat plain fashion, with a “Readers Club” logo on the front and a more elegant spine with a “RC” featured somewhere.  The judges provided the forewords to the majority of the titles – Sinclair Lewis for example did the honors for The Days of the King and The History of Mr. Polly.  This fact is prominent on the spines and dustjackets of the books I’ve seen.   Below is a list that I’ve compiled on the books printed (title followed by author, illustrator [if applicable], the provider of the foreword and year):

1941 Titles

William by E.H. Young/?/Carl Van Doren/1941
The History of Mr. Polly
by H.G. Wells/?/Sinclair Lewis/1941
The Last Frontier by Howard Fast/?/Carl Van Doren/1941
The Murderer’s Companion by William Roughead/?/Alexander Woollcott/1941
Twelve Against the Gods: The Story of Adventure by William Bolitho/?/Alexander Woollcott/1941
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony: Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule by Henry Handel Richardson/?/Sinclair Lewis/1941
The Asiatics by Frederic Prokosch/?/Carl Van Doren/1941

1942 Titles

The Days of the King by Bruno Frank/Adolf von Menzel/Sinclair Lewis/1942
Charles Dickens, The Last of the Great Men by G.K. Chesterton/?/Alexander Woollcott/1942
Anel Pavement by J.B. Priestly/?/Sinclair Lewis/1942
Henry Ward Beecher: An American Portrait by Paxton Hibben/?/Sinclair Lewis/1942
Billy Budd, Benito Cereno and the Enchanted Isles: Three Shorter Novels by the Author of Moby Dick by Herman Melville/?/Carl Van Doren/1942

1943 Titles

Rendezvous and Other Long & Short Stories About Our Navy in Action by Alec Hudson/?/Carl Van Doren/1943
Tommy and Grizel by J.M. Barrie/?/Clinton Fadiman/1943
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev/Fritz Eichenberg/Sinclair Lewis/1943 (Heritage Reprint)
The Golden Violet: The Story of a Lady Novelist by Joseph Shearing (Majorie Bowen)/?/Sinclair Lewis/1943
The Young Melbourne by Lord David Cecil/?/Carl Van Doren/1943

Note that this is by no means definitive – I’ve picked what I can from the internet, but any additional insights would be very welcome.  I have a special thread at the George Macy Devotees seeking info on the Reader’s Club – drop me a line there or leave me comments here.

Now, since this is an arm of the George Macy Company, I will document books as I stumble upon them here, but I do not plan on making them a part of my personal collection.  They are a little too plain for my taste.  Expect The Days of the King sometime in the near future.

Sources:

http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/rbml/findingmaterials/uncataloged_books.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,772156,00.html

http://notorc.blogspot.com/2006/08/book-club-wars-part-two-depression-war.html

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_6309312_028/pages/ldpd_6309312_028_00000095.html?toggle=&menu=maximize&top=undefined&left=undefined

http://books.google.com/books?id=NQozEkrNYjIC&pg=PA446&lpg=PA446&dq=reader%27s+club+george+macy+sinclair+lewis&source=bl&ots=wpAACafQ6a&sig=s_9XTT-ip3gwfom2RuYrBbBNRQA&hl=en&ei=fZV-TqSDKcfKiALiyNC6Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2702890-william

http://www.librarything.com/topic/116350#2947291

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