It was around this time, in the year 1926, that the Book of the Month Club was born. . . .
It was the baby of Harry Scherman, Max Sackheim, and Robert Haas.
Readers of the roaring twenties did not have Oprah’s Book Club, you know; they had to rely on marketing displays in bookstore windows and the word of friends and acquaintances. The Book of the Month Club offered something different. First, they hired a panel of literary authorities–journalists, authors and editors; this group reviewed the latest books and settled upon “the best new books published each month.” These books were then sold to a faithful group of subscribers, thus providing a new marketing channel for publishers, and ‘safe’ new reading options for readers.
Of course, this bookish venture served as a road to diversification. Ten years earlier Scherman and the Boni brothers, Charles and Albert, dreamed up the Little Leather Library . . .
For two dollars and ninety-eight cents you could receive thirty ‘Great Books’–small, leather bound volumes nestled in boxes of Whitman’s chocolates. To keep the price down, all titles were in the public domain–their way of bringing the classics to ‘general readers.’
Reading a little something new–bringing the classics to the masses? That’s something we can get on board with.
Also, chocolate . . .