World Wide Publishing (New York, US)
Series dates: 1929-1930
Size: 4.25 x 6.75″
World Wide Publishing was the US imprint of author and publisher Hall Caine, who whose Readers Library (and associated Greycaine Book Manufacturing Company) were very successful in the UK. The Readers Library was sold by in the US (minus the illustrated dust jackets) by J.H. Sears & Co. between 1924 and 1929. Sears discontinued the series in 1929 and Caine established World Wide Publishing to again offer the titles to in the U.S. market. Some changes were made to the binding (stamped paper bindings, rather than cloth, for example) and the colorful UK dust jackets, rather than Sears’ bland jackets, were used. The books were, like Sears’ Readers Library, sold for a dime, primarily at Woolworth drug stores.
The books were printed and bound by the J.F. Tapley Company in Long Island City, New York. J.F. Tapley Co. was established in 1895 by Jesse Fellowes Tapley. They printed and bound books such as the Century Dictionary, as well as titles for the J.H. Sears & Co. and many industrial, business, government, and small publisher titles as well as travel posters, advertising displays, and other larger format materials. J.F. Tapley Co. was one of the founders of The Bookbinders’ Guild of New York.
World Wide Publishing was not particularly successful, despite the low prices, and Readers Library titles seem to disappear in the early 1930s. World Wide Publishing also attempted to start some new US series: several books were issued under the Double Deck Series and Triple Deck Series series titles, consisting of collections of two or three popular fiction titles in one edition. Some of the World Wide Edition titles ended up in these “Deck” books. Several publishers with the World Wide Publishing name appear later – one publishing evangelical literature and the other publishing pornographic books for Hustler Magazine. These are probably not Caine’s firm.
The World Wide Edition series consisted of at least 15 titles from the British Readers Library series with a few minor changes to the jackets and books, published in 1929-1930. The only place the series name is indicated is on the jackets, at the base of the jacket spine (right).
As noted, the Readers Library was established by Hall Caine and his sons and began printing (as the Greycaine Book Manufacturing Company) and publishing (as the Readers Library Publishing Company Ltd.) in 1924. Books in the Readers Library consisted of a few classics but mostly popular fiction sporting lurid dust jackets, poorly manufactured with the cheapest of materials. Movie tie-in and photoplay books were among the series innovations. In the U.S., J.H. Sears and Company (New York, US) and their Kingsport Press (Kingsport, TN, US) co-published the series, also beginning in 1924. The Sears Readers Library books lacked the lurid jackets. It’s not clear why given the central role these jackets must have played in promoting the series. It is possible that Sears had a streak of good old American prudishness that kept them from using the UK jackets. Instead, a series of generic patterned jackets were used by Sears in the U.S.
By 1929 Sears discontinued their production and sales of the Readers Library in the U.S. World Wide Publishing subsequently issued a few of the many titles from the series. The books and jackets were printed in England and bound by the J.F. Tapley Company on Long Island. Tapley had, as noted previously, bound books for Sears. The series did not expand beyond its initial 15 or so titles.
Jackets for the World Wide Editions were largely the same as the UK editions. The UK editions typically had wraparound dust jacket art, but this particular title, Arthur Bernede’s The Mystery of the Louvre, has separate artwork on the front and rear of the jacket. Surrounding those illustrations are a monochrome border of various suggestive items (guns, knives, drills, jewelry, etc.) related to crime. This jacket seems to be from a subset of the Readers Library series called the Crime Series.
The UK edition of this title is shown below (not in my collection) with Crime Series indicated on the devil face on the spine and front of the jacket. This jacket also indicates the Readers Library and includes a series number (268). Also, the US edition did not promote the movie based on the book, thus the “Illustrated Edition” and “A European Picture” are removed from the US dust jacket.
The front of the U.S. World Wide Edition jacket does not include the “Illustrated Edition” or “A European Picture” text, nor the “Crime Series” text. The front jacket flap provides a description of the book.
The rear jacket contains the same artwork as the U.K. edition, with the addition of a black World Wide Publishing logo above the damsel in distress’ head. The back flap indicates six titles:
No. 1: Edgar Wallace, The Thief in the Night
No. 2: Edgar Wallace, Four Square Jane
No. 3: Edgar Wallace, The Ghost of Downhill
No. 4: Rafael Sabatini, The Sea Hawk
No. 5: H. de Vere Stackpoole, The Blue Lagoon
No. 6: Arthur Bernede, The Mystery of the Louvre
Additional titles seem to include:
Rex Beach, The Spoilers (photoplay edition)
Ruth Alexander & Charles Bennett, Blackmail
Percy Heath, Slightly Scarlet
Sarah Mason, The Girl Said No
Grace Hayward, Wedding Rings
Grace Hayward, Her Unborn Child
Donald Clewton, Montana Moon
Thea von Harbou, Rocket to the Moon
Edgar Wallace, The Three Oak Mystery
The bindings are of very cheap cardboard stamped to look like cloth with gold decorations. World Wide Publishing is debossed on the base of the book spine.
Coarse, cheap paper is used in all of the World Wide Edition books. A foreword is largely the same as those included in many Readers Library titles, praising the excellence of the series content and materials. The title page and the forward are encased in a border.
“Printed in Great Britain” is placed at the base of the copyright page.
The second to last page of the book indicates: “Printed by the Greycaine Book Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Watford, England and bound by J.F. Tapley Co., Long Island City, New York.”
Edgar Wallace’s The Thief in the Night, also in the World Wide Edition series, is advertised on the last page of the book.