Emanuel Haldeman-Julius : Pocket Series and the Little Blue Books

Haldeman-Julius Series Identification Guide

 
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The various Haldeman-Julius pocket books were published from 1919 until 19781 under a variety of series titles: The Appeal's Pocket Series, People's Pocket Series, Appeal Pocket Series, Ten Cent Pocket Series, Five Cent Pocket Series, Pocket Series, and most popularly as the Little Blue Book series. Regardless, all books measure roughly 8½ × 12¾ centimeters (approximately 3½ × 5 inches) and were printed in standardized lengths of 16, 32, 64, 80, 96, 128 or 160 pages, in keeping with the limitations of the press equipment employed.2,3

This two page Series Identification Guide has been created as a preliminary introduction to the various series, sub-series and sets, and to provide a convenient, baseline reference point for booklet identification. This guide is by no means exhaustive, and interested parties are encouraged to explore the content of this website, most specifically our Resources for Collectors, Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles and Gallery of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Wrappers for additional information.

The Appeal's Pocket Series

The Appeal's Pocket Series was the first incarnation of what would eventually become the Little Blue Books. As the story goes, Haldeman-Julius bootstrapped production of this series by soliciting an advance of funds from the 175,000 subscribers on the Appeal to Reason mailing list.4 In exchange for $5.00, Haldeman-Julius would "send 50 booklets, to be mailed 5 at a time". Some 5000 readers responded, giving Haldeman-Julius $25,000 with which to complete production, and to contribute towards the outstanding debt he had incurred with the purchase of the Appeal to Reason itself.5

Formal publication began in February of 19196,7,8 with the release of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Advertisments released in a variety of Haldeman-Julius publications would lead one to assume that between 201 and 239 titles would populate this series by July 1921. Physical evidence, however, does not seem to support this, and it is very likely that no more than 30 titles actually made it to print9

Wrappers bear the stamp of Appeal to Reason publishing, and many of the titles in this series pay homage to this company's socialist/anarchist legacy.

To gain more in-depth information on The Appeal's Pocket Series, we recommend reading Dating The Appeal's Pocket Series and People's Pocket Series by Jake Gibbs, and The Appeal to Reason: Forerunner of Haldeman-Julius Publications by Tim Davenport. You may also wish to check out the titles published in The Appeal's Pocket Series in our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles, and visit our Gallery of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Wrappers.

People's Pocket Series

People's Pocket Series began publishing in autumn 1919,10 overlapping with The Appeal's Pocket Series which continued publication presumably to fulfill obligations to those subscribers who had purchased advance copies.

This series would support a diversity of wrapper designs during its run. Several designs, issued mostly between the summers of 1920 and 1921,11 sported a graphic image of a scribe within a circle on their cover. It is interesting to note that this image was previously used on "The People's Books" hardcover series released by London publisher T.C. & E.C. Jack prior to WWI.12

People's Pocket Series would be the last to carry the publishing stamp of Appeal to Reason, as the company was rebranded Appeal Publishing Company during its run. As a result, some wrappers for this series support the Appeal to Reason publisher's stamp, while later editions support the Appeal Publishing Company stamp. Some very early printings in this series are said to carry a stamp for "The People's Press",13 but whether this publishing house was an official entity or a mere flirtation is unknown.

Advertisements for this series still claimed 239 sequentially numbered titles, although not the same 239 titles advertised for the The Appeal's Pocket Series.14 Publication of the People's Pocket Series continued until early 1922 when it was then replaced by the Appeal Pocket Series.15

To gain more in-depth information on the People's Pocket Series, we recommend reading Dating The Appeal's Pocket Series and People's Pocket Series by Jake Gibbs. You may also wish to check out the titles published in the People's Pocket Series in our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles, and visit our Gallery of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Wrappers.

Appeal Pocket Series

Appeal Pocket Series was published briefly in early 1922, and shares the distinction of being amongst the shortest-lived incarnations of the Little Blue Books. The series was published exclusively by the Appeal Publishing Company and all booklets bear this stamp on the front of their wrappers.

Like its predecessors this series continued to claim at least 239 titles16, and despite its short life span it is highly likely, although not conclusively proven, that all 239 titles actually made it to print. These titles, however, were not the same 239 titles from The Appeal's Pocket Series. Over time, more than a few of the more politically-charged works in the series had been retired and replaced by a diversity of material pulled from the realms of classical literature, public debate, and self-help.

Appeal Pocket Series also saw the beginning of more aggressive marketing tactics by Haldeman-Julius. While previous series had been advertised primarily through the pre-existing subscribers list, Appeal Pocket Series would enjoy the benefit of additional promotional efforts, including the use of paid advertisements in major national newspapers.17

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles published in the Appeal Pocket Series.

Ten Cent Pocket Series

Ten Cent Pocket Series, published from Spring 1922 until Fall 1923, issued its inaugural catalogue listing 239 titles.18 Early issues would continue to bear the Appeal Publishing Company stamp, but five months in to its run the company changed its name to Haldeman-Julius Company19, and a new stamp would begin to grace the wrappers.

Change in publisher's stamp aside, the Ten Cent Pocket Series sported a single front wrapper design. Three different back wrapper designs are known to exist, however.20 To this end, the later the date of publication, the more advertisements you will find on the back wrap: earliest printings have none, final printings have three.21

While the first published catalogue for the series listed 239 titles,22 the depth and breadth of offerings would continue to be developed. By the end of its run the Ten Cent Pocket Series supported at least 447 titles23, but no more than 49924

It is interesting to note that in his autobiography My First 25 Years Haldeman-Julius ignores the existence of the Ten Cent Pocket Series (as well as the later Five Cent Pocket Series and Pocket Series).

"It wasn't long before I had 210 titles in what was then known as the Appeal Pocket Series. I then decided to change the name of the library to the Little Blue Books, and that's been its name ever since."

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles published in the Ten Cent Pocket Series.

Five Cent Pocket Series

Five Cent Pocket Series was published for the blink of an eye during the autumn of 1923, wedged in between publication of Ten Cent Pocket Series and Pocket Series.

The series is known to have supported titles numbered up to at least 44125, but no more than 49926. Given its outrageously short life span, however, it is improbable that all of these titles actually made it to print under the Five Cent Pocket Series banner.

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles published in the Five Cent Pocket Series.


Pocket Series

The Pocket Series began publication in the fall of 1923, and would be the final predecessor to pave the way for the official Little Blue Book series.

Pocket Series did enjoy a unique badge of distinction in that it would support the release of the much-touted 500th title, formally announced in January 1924.27 Despite the grand publicity surrounding this publication (much of it drummed up by Haldeman-Julius himself), the days of the Pocket Series were already numbered. In late 1923 the decision to retire the Pocket Series in favour of the Little Blue Book series had already been made.28

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles published in the Pocket Series.


Little Blue Book

Little Blue Books are generally the most recognized Haldeman-Julius pocket series, and certainly the most prolific. Publication started in late 1923 with an initial stable of 500 titles.29 This inventory grew aggressively over the remainder of the decade, seeing some 200 titles introduced each year so that 1260 were available by September of 1927.30,31 A brief hiatus occured for the several months that followed, but production began to surge again between 1928 and 1930, with roughly 100 titles released each year.32

By this point in time, the scope of the series encompassed a rambling potpourri of influences. Politically-charged titles could certainly still be found, but they now freely mixed company with foreign-language dictionaries, explorations of "sexology", and indelicate works of ethnic humour, to identify but a few common themes.

As with earlier series, not all of these titles were granted their own unique booklet numbers. Haldeman-Julius had discovered the saddening fact that, as true today as it was nearly a century ago, few things sell better than sensationalism. As previous works were retired due to poor sales, new works soon adopted their place in the series sequence. To add insult to injury, some works were not retired, merely renamed, leading to a bibliographic drama bordering on tragedy.

During the 1930's, series growth was a small fraction of its former glory. The series would end 1931 with over 1700 titles in its ranks, but would not see the 1800s until the early 1940's.33 By the time of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius's death on July 31, 1951, the series had 1873 active titles34, although the inventory of actual works printed since 1919 is said to have been in excess of 2,200.35

Henry J. Haldeman, the son of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, continued the Little Blue Book series following his father's death. Publication finally ceased in 1978 after the Girard printing plant and warehouse were destroyed by fire. The final booklet number was 1915.36

As one might expect, five decades of publication gave rise to numerous initiatives and transformations. To learn about the various sub-series and sets issued under the Little Blue Books banner, please visit our Identification Guide for Little Blue Book Variations. You may also wish to check out the titles published in the Little Blue Book series in our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles, and visit our Gallery of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Wrappers.


 
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Source Citations
1Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Little Blue Books. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Blue_Books]
2San Diego State University, Library and Information Access, Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' Collection, 1915-1976, [http://infodome.sdsu.edu/about/depts/spcollections/collections/haldeman.shtml]
3Richard Colles Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle, "The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' as a Bibliographic Problem", The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 64, First Quarter (1970), Page 40
4,5Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, My First 25 Years; Instead of a footnote An Autobiography (1949), Page 13, Haldeman-Julius Company
6Richard Colles Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle, "The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' as a Bibliographic Problem", The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 64, First Quarter (1970), Page 34
7,11,13,15Jake Gibbs, "Dating Little Blue Books", [http://www.haldeman-julius.org/haldeman-julius-resources/dating-little-blue-books/]
8,9,10Jake Gibbs, "Dating The Appeal's Pocket Series and People's Pocket Series", [http://www.haldeman-julius.org/haldeman-julius-resources/dating-appeals-and-peoples/]
12Tim Davenport, "The People's Books", Big Blue Newsletter, No. 4 (2004), Page 15 [http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/culture/pubs/hjcc/2004/1100-hjcc-bbn04.pdf]
14,18,19Richard Colles Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle, "The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' as a Bibliographic Problem", The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 64, First Quarter (1970), Page 35
16,23,25Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Haldeman-Julius "Little Blue Book" Collection 1919-1947, [https://www.amherst.edu/media/view/78748/original/little%20blue%20books.pdf]
17Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, My First 25 Years; Instead of a footnote An Autobiography (1949), Page 14, Haldeman-Julius Company
20,21,34,36Leonard H. Axe Library, Checklist of the Little Blue Books (1501-1915), [http://library.pittstate.edu/spcoll/hj-lbb-4.html]
22,29,35,#Dr. Sharon Neet, Tenth Annual Eugene DeGruson Memorial Lecture, [http://library.pittstate.edu/friends/degruson/dml2007.html]
24,26,27,30Richard Colles Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle, "The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' as a Bibliographic Problem", The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 64, First Quarter (1970), Page 37
28Richard Colles Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle, "The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books'; as a Bibliographic Problem", The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 64, First Quarter (1970), Page 38
31,32,33Richard Colles Johnson and G. Thomas Tanselle, "The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' as a Bibliographic Problem", The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 64, First Quarter (1970), Page 42