Grosset & Dunlap

Grosset & Dunlap (New York, US)
Series dates: 1898-1982
Size: 5″ x 7.5″

Founded in 1898 by Alexander Grosset and George T. Dunlap in New York City, Grosset and Dunlap sold copious numbers of reprints, remainders and original series throughout much of the 20th century. While many of G&D’s books were typically not in a named series (although some were) they deserve attention due to the huge numbers sold and impact on 20th century publishing.

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G&D’s initial business plan was to purchase heavily discounted paperbacks (in essence, remainders) and bind them (as more desirable hard-covers) with the G&D imprint. In particular, G&D used the stock of the bankrupt American Publishers Corporation (where both Grosset and Dunlap were employees). Other than the binding (and jacket) the book’s imprint remained as originally printed. As the overstock of paperbacks diminished around 1899, G&D turned to other strategies: purchasing unbound overstock from publishers (to be bound and sold; sometimes replacing the title page and including their own imprint, other times leaving the original title page and imprint intact), or renting plates from publishers and reprinting titles under the G&D imprint. Finally, G&D issued pirated titles by Kipling and other authors that were, at the time, being widely pirated by other publishers. Children’s series were added beginning in 1907 including original series. Non-reprint movie novelizations appear in 1914.

In 1926 the Books of Distinction series is initiated, to provide higher quality books of more literary titles. Subseries include Non-Fiction of Distinction, Novels of Distinction, Pulitzer Prize Novels and Juveniles of Distinction. The resurgence of paperbacks in the late 1930s led G&D to partner with the Curtis Circulation Co., and issue the paperback Bantam Books, which by the late 1940s was one of the best-selling paperback imprints. G&D was acquired by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1982, and eventually became part of Penguin Random House (in its Penguin Group subsidiary). Its current publishing focus is primarily juvenile books.

An example of an early Grosset & Dunlap title, probably sold in the 1905-1907 time frame, is this copy of Hearts Courageous by Hallie Erminie Rives. Rives was a popular turn-of-the-century romantic novelist. This book has a G&D jacket and binding over a Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis) imprint book.

Hearts Courageous was first published by Bowen Merrill in 1902 which is the copyright date that appears on later editions. Bowen Merrill became Bobbs-Merrill in 1903. The book was reprinted under the Bobbs-Merrill imprint (thus sometime in or after 1903). The binding of these original editions (not shown) is in red or green binding with gold typography and an image embossed on the book on the left book cover. The book also has a two color title page and tissue inserted before the title page.

Grosset & Dunlap issued the book shown below at some point around 1905-1907. The jacket is plain on brown kraft paper and such jackets were common to G&D reprints of this era. The G&D name is on the jacket spine, and the front flap advertises additional G&D titles.

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The rear of the jacket and back flap continue the list of G&D titles – “in uniform price and general style with this volume.” The price of G&D titles at this time was .50 cents, but that price is not on the jacket.

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The book itself has a redesigned cover, which reverses the design of the original Bowen Merrill / Bobbs-Merrill editions: the image is shifted to the right, and the author’s name is on the left. The G&D imprint is on the book spine. Black type replaces the gold type used on the original editions.

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There is no half-title page. The title page has the Bobbs-Merrill imprint. In this case, G&D may have been rebinding left over sheets purchased from Bobbs-Merrill, or they may have rented the plates and reprinted the book themselves. The gift inscription on the page facing the title page is dated October 12, 1907. Thus the guess at the date of the book in the 1905-1907 range.

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The copyright page indicates 1902 and the Bowen Merrill company as copyright holder.

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The same plates for Hearts Courageous were used by another publisher, A. Wessels (New York) which is the same as the G&D reprint except Wessells’ imprint is included on the title page of the book. Another edition with Book Lovers Press on the spine (on a book with a Bobbs-Merrill imprint on the title page) seems to have been issued later, with a plain cover.

The book is once again reprinted by a publisher called The Reader’s Library (not related to the two British Reader’s Library series) under the series name Romances of American History. This book too has the Bobbs-Merrill imprint on the title page. Some of the books issued in this series were reissued in 1927 under the series name Half-Forgotten Romances of American History by the Stylus Publishing Co. of Washington DC. These reprints sometimes also indicate Kenmore Edition.

After 1910 Grosset & Dunlap seems to consistently publish books with their imprint on the title page rather than rebinding sheets or reprinting titles from other publishers with those publishers imprints.

Multiple millions of copies of reprints (and some original titles) were printed by G&D and they are among the most common reprint titles found today, sometimes in series (Books of Distinction) but more often printed under the G&D imprint.