Pocket Books

aka/ The Pocket Books

George H. Doran Co. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1913-1926
Size: 4.75″ x 7″

Canadian George Doran established his publishing company in Toronto in 1908 and that same year moved it to New York City. Doran’s initial focus was serving as Hodder & Stoughton’s North American representative (H&S also owned 25% of Doran’s firm), but he soon grew into a major force in publishing, having 3,346 titles in print by 1927. That year Doran merged with Doubleday & Page, forming Doubleday Doran, the largest publisher in the world at that time.

Doran’s Pocket Books series shared names with Robert F. de Graff’s Pocket Books paperback series, first issued in 1939. It is possible that the name of DeGraff’s famous paperback series was influenced by Doran’s much earlier series of the same name. De Graff had been employed by Doubleday beginning in 1922, and by 1925 he was head of reprint series for Doubleday. Under the Doubleday Doran firm, de Graff had a hand in all the publisher’s series, until he left in 1936 to establish his own Pocket Books.

Priced at .50 cents, The Pocket Books were first published around 1913 and added titles until about 1916. Most copies are absent printing dates. A few reprints appear as late as 1926. The copy, below, of George Birmingham’s The Major’s Niece was first published in 1911 by Smith and Elder and Hodder & Stoughton / Doran in the U.S. Given the 16 war-related titles in the series (advertised on the rear jacket flap) this particular book was probably published around 1915, when most of the mentions of The Pocket Books can be found in book-related literature.

Jackets are common to the series, with a grid of boxes within which the individual book authors and titles are printed. The series name is included on the jacket front. The series logo on the spine, front, and front flap of the jacket. The front jacket flap contains various publisher endorsements of the series: well worth reading, copyrighted fiction at a cheap price, convenient format, easily built into a home library, and new titles added monthly.

Titles are a combination of Doran & Hodder and Stoughton reprints, along with 16 titles related to WW 1. Doran was a significant publisher of propaganda for the U.S. government during WW 1. The connection between government-sponsored propaganda publications and the 16 titles in the Pocket Books series is not clear. Besides the 16 war titles, 25 fiction titles are in the series. No others appear under the series name in WorldCat:

A Great Man, Arnold Bennett
The Book of Carlotta, Arnold Bennett
Buried Alive, Arnold Bennett
Helen with the High Hand, Arnold Bennett
Leonora, Arnold Bennett
The Truth About an Author, Arnold Bennett
Lalage’s Love, G.A. Birmingham
The Major’s Niece, G.A. Birmingham
Priscilla’s Spies, G.A. Birmingham
The Search Party, G.A. Birmingham
The Simpkins Plot, G.A. Birmingham
Spanish Gold, G.A. Birmingham
Meadowsweet, Baroness Orczy
The Noble Rogue, Baroness Orczy
Courin’ Christina, J.J. Bell
Jim, J.J. Bell
Blinds Down, Horace Annesley Vachell
John Verney, Horace Annesley Vachell
A Bachelor’s Comedy, J.E. Buckrose
Because of Jane, J.E. Buckrose
The Day Book of Claudius Clear, W. Robertson Nicoll
Letters of Life, W. Robertson Nicoll
The Girl From Nowhere, Baillie Reynolds
The Notorious Miss Lisle, Baillie Reynolds
Dr. Thorne’s Idea, John Ames Mitchell

The maroon cloth binding is debossed with the series name on the front.

Series endpapers are in the front and rear of the book.

The half-title page:

A catalog of G.A. Birmingham’s books in a uniform edition, $1.50 each, face the title page. The title page indicates the series name and is designed in a manner similar to the jacket front.

The copyright page is blank.