Jonathan Cape (London, UK)
Series dates: 1934
Size: 6.5″ x 4.5″

Jonathan Cape’s Flexibles series appeared for only one year, 1934, and included 10 titles. The series was cheaper than Cape’s Travellers’ Library, bound in flexible cloth bindings, somewhere between a paperback and cloth-bound book. Two James Joyce titles (Portrait and Dubliners) were included, using plates from the Travellers’ Library editions. No. 6 in the series, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is shown in this entry.

Jackets were common to the series, with a bold, curved logo for the series appearing on the front and back of the jackets. Jackets were printed in at least two colors: green and red. The jacket front also included the title, author and price (2s. 6d.). The front jacket flap (above) included the series number, title, and a brief description of the title. The price was indicated in the lower right-hand corner of the front jacket flap.

The back of the jacket (below) included a list of titles in the series and, again, a price. The rear jacket flap was blank.

Titles in the series include:

  1. The Story of the Jews, by Lewis Browne
  2. Selections from Byron, edited by Hamish Miles
  3. December the Fourteenth, by Dmitri Merezhkovsky
  4. Men Without Women, by Ernest Hemingway
  5. The Country of Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett
  6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
  7. Dubliners, by James Joyce
  8. Twenty-Five by Beverly Nichols
  9. Mastro-Don Gesualdo, by Giovanni Verga
  10. Italian Backgrounds, by Edith Warton

Bindings are cloth, but more flexible (as the series title indicates) than cloth but more sturdy than a paperbound book. One reference to the series indicated the covers consisted of a “washable, pliable binding.” The overall appearance is not unlike the Modern Library editions, bound in what was called balloon cloth, first issued in 1932. It is likely that the Flexibles series was influenced by the very popular Modern Library series. The covers varied in color and included the book title and author and design on the cover front. The series name was not printed on the book binding.

The half-title page:

A listing of the 10 titles in the series faces the title page.

A copyright page includes the initial publication date for Portrait (1916), a new edition (1924) and this, Flexibles edition (1934). A note at the bottom of the copyright page indicates: “Bound by A.W. Bain & Co., Ltd. in cloth, fast to light and washable, made by Martin Sundour Fabrics, Ltd.

This particular book has a receipt from a bookstore in Helsinki, dated 1935, and including the purchase of this book and a copy of George Bernard Shaw’s Too True to be Good.