American Library

Albert and Charles Boni (New York, US)
Series dates: 1924-1926
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

amerlib_james_logoAlbert Boni and his brother Charles owned the Washington Square Bookstore in Greenwich Village in New York, a meeting place for intellectuals and radicals. They began publishing the Little Leather Library in 1916 that eventually sold over 25 million tiny, fake-leather bound titles. Albert Boni and Horace Liveright founded publisher Boni & Liveright in 1917, and in that same year began publication of the Modern Library.

Boni sold his share in Boni & Liveright to Liveright in 1919. In 1923, Albert and Charles incorporated the Albert and Charles Boni Publishing Company.

The relatively short-lived American Library series was undoubtedly an attempt to capture some of the success of the Modern Library (which was sold by Liveright in 1925). Around 1924 titles in the series began to appear. The jackets are unique to each title, and include a price ($1.25) as well as a series catalog on the front jacket flap.

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The rear of the jacket includes a blurb about the book, and advertisements for other books from the publisher:

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The only mention of the series name on the dust jacket is the small, nearly unreadable series logo at the top of the front flap, and repeated in two lines on the jacket rear and rear flap. Series editors are noted on the jacket and above the title list inside the book.

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It does not seem that any titles were published beyond the 24 in the list above. The Story of a Country Town was published in 1926.

In 1929 Albert and Charles Boni initiated the Boni Paper Books, publishing one soft-cover book per month for 12 months with a yearly subscription price of $5. This soft-covered series with eye-catching cover designs was ahead of its time (the paperback revolution would start in earnest in the late 1930s). The series failed in the depths of the Depression.