Mail-Order Clubs Revolutionize Book Sales (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: Sales strategies used by the Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild of America revolutionized the publishing, sales, distribution, and reading of books in the United States.
Summary of Event
The antecedents of book clubs can be traced to the subscription library that Benjamin Franklin organized in 1731. Before the Civil War, the American Tract Society introduced a “tract-of-the-month” plan under which its publications were described and offered for sale in a monthly magazine. Book guilds established in post-World War I Germany to make available low-priced reprints of the classics were more immediate forerunners. Modern book clubs emerged in the United States during the 1920’s. Prosperity favored leisure activities, and businesses supporting them, as did the shortening of the work week, which gave at least some segments of the population more leisure time. Even more important was the dramatic increase in the size of the reading public resulting from rapid expansion of high school and college enrollments. At the same time, there were few bookstores outside large metropolitan centers. Growth in the number of titles published meant that readers needed, or at least wanted, guidance in selecting among them. Readers who did not have ready access to bookstores composed a large new market for both books and advice on selecting them.
Harry Scherman is generally acknowledged as the father of...
(The entire section is 2349 words.)
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