World’s Popular Classics

Books Inc. (New York, US)
Series dates: 1938-1960
Size: 5″ x 7.5″


Books Inc. was established in 1938 by Lewis Mulford Adams, who was earlier president of the printer J. J. Little & Ives Company (1916-1931), established the Kingsport (Tennessee) Press (1923) and Colonial Press, Inc. (1931). Books, Inc. was a purveyor of very cheap, copyright-free hardcover reprint books from the late 1930s onward. They advertised in periodicals such as Chain Store Age, suggesting their books were aimed at department stores, grocery stores, dime stores, etc.

The World’s Popular Classics are on the low end of reprint series from the latter half of the 20th century. Reprints appear through the 1970s although most likely the series was mostly printed in the 1940s and 1950s. Two other series, Books for Boys and Girls and Midnite Mysteries appear around the same time (early to mid-1940s).  The same books, with different jackets, were sold as The University Library of Classics in the 1940s and 1950s.

Jackets sport crude but unique designs probably pulled together quickly and without much thought. Colors are bright and artwork sloppy. This copy of Franklin’s Autobiography is undated, possibly late 1940s. The series name is not included on the jacket front, spine or flap. A blurb for the book is on the front jacket flap. No prices are on the jacket, given that these titles were priced to meet the requirements of the department stores where they were sold.


The rear flap is blank, and the back of the book advertises the Midnite Mysteries. This series seems to debut around the same time as the World’s Popular Classics, in the early 1940s.


Very basic black bindings with gold typography.


Half title page:


The series name only shows up on the title page. This is noted as an “Art-Type Edition.” Whatever that means. Sounds fancy, though.


There is no copyright date on this title.