British Publishers Guild (London, UK)
Series dates: 1944-1945
Size: 4.25″ x 7.25″
The paperbound Guild Books series (published between 1941 and 1955) was initially intended to compete with Penguin Books, which dominated the low-end of the book market after their initial release in 1935. Individual publishers issued their own Penguinesque paperback series, but paper shortages (due to the war) and the sheer force of the Penguin juggernaut led to a different strategy: collective publishing. The British Publishers Guild, initially led by George Harrap, consisted of publishers banding together to issue a Penguin competitor, first announced in August of 1940. This tactic was similar to Blue Ribbon Books in the US, established in 1930, a coalition of publishers working together to compete with powerhouse (hardcover) reprint house Grosset & Dunlap.
Each of the 8 original publishers involved (Jonathan Cape, Cassell, Chatto & Windus, Dent, Faber & Faber, Harrap, Heinemann, and Murray) were to publish their own contributions to the series, but in a common format. The imprint on the books was, typically, “Published for The British Publishers Guild by …” with the member firm indicated. All titles were to be copyright titles, thus none of the typical classics were included in the series. The first titles were issued in February of 1941. The series was never particularly successful, at least in its original goal to challenge Penguin. Coordinating the collective publishing effort was difficult, and titles were slower to be issued than originally anticipated.
See the entry under Guild Books for more information about the Guild Books general series and additional sub-series.
A copy of Philip Briggs North with the Pintail was first published by Lutterworth Press in 1943, reprinted in 1944, then published in this form in 1945.
The jacket and book below are part of a mid-war experiment by the Guild, consisting of three sub-series: Continental Editions (C1-C10), Guild German, and Guild Austrian. This copy is from the Continental Editions, published by Ljus in Stockholm and shipped to the continent, through Denmark. Sweden remained neutral through WW2, and this allowed them to sell the books in Allied and Nazi-occupied areas.
The jacket design for the Continental Editions is common to the series, with a “factotum aperture” (empty space) left open on the spine, jacket front, and front jacket flap, where specific details (author, title, etc.) could be overprinted. The ten books issued in the Continental (C) Editions have jackets and book covers printed in different colors. The spine includes the series name, title, author, series category (C, for Continental) and number (9). The cover is dominated by the Guild Books colophon, topped by a lion, I think. The front jacket flap describes the book.
The rear of the jacket lists “Some Guild Titles” numbered 1 through 10, of which this title is #9. These were the only titles published in the Continental Edition of the Guild Books series. The rear jacket flap describes the goals of the series and the British Publishers Guild.
At the bottom of the back cover is printed: “ESSELTE. STHLM 45”
This refers to Esselte, the Stockholm-based office supply firm which has a long history of publishing books via several subsidiary publishers. The 45 refers to the year the book was printed. According to The Publishers Weekly, vol. 163, 1953, Esselte, through its subsidiary publishers Ljus and Neuer Verlag, printed books for UK and US firms, which were shipped (through Denmark) as Swedish imports to Allied and Nazi-held territories.
The 10 titles in the Continental Edition of the Guild Books:
The book cover (wraps) design is the same as the jacket, sans flaps.
The half-title page:
“All rights reserved by Lutterworth Press, London and Redhill. First published 1943. Second Impression 1944. Published in this series 1945” faces the title page. The series name and serial number are at the top of the page. The title and author follow, along with the Guild Books colophon. “Published for The British Publishers Guild by AB Ljus Forlag, Stockholm.” For other publishers, the imprint changed and included one of the participating firms after the word “by.”
“Printed in Sweden by Esselte AB, Stockholm 405452.”