Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yellow Pages

This week Abe Books' rare book room pulls together a collection of books produced by visionary publisher Victor Gollancz. Here's what they have to say about him:
Gollancz (1893-1967) studied the classics at Oxford University and during World War I began his life in publishing when he joined Ernest Benn’s firm … recruiting writers [such as] Edith Nesbit and H. G. Wells. In 1927, he set up his own publishing house and his career took off. [Among others,] he signed George Orwell, Ford Madox FordDaphne Du Maurier.
Gollancz was ahead of this time. He placed full-page adverts for his books in newspapers (very rare for this period) and his designers established a recognizable style featuring powerful typography and yellow dust jackets. Gollancz was creating ‘branding’ 50 years before marketers embraced the buzzword.

In 1936, Gollancz was a co-founder of the Left Book Club with the intention of halting the growth of Fascism in Europe and promoting socialism. Every month, Gollancz recommended a left-leaning book and members received the book for a discounted price of two shillings and six pence. The first selection was France Today and the People's Front by Maurice Thorez, a French Communist. The Left Book Club had 45,000 members within 12 months and hundreds of local groups met and debated the books up and down Britain.
The publisher was knighted in 1965.

I cut out a lot, but the point, to make a long story short, is that Victor Gollancz was quite an interesting dude. Visit abebooks.com to learn more about him and browse.

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