Emanuel Haldeman-Julius : Pocket Series and the Little Blue Books

Series Identification Guide - Little Blue Book Variants

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After almost five years spent experimenting with the various pocket series, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius felt he had finally found a winning formula with the Little Blue Books. This did not, however, put an end to his (or his son's) constant tinkering. Over five decades of publishing, a variety of distribution and marketing efforts would see the Little Blue Books divided into collections, libraries, sets and sub-series designed to help advance niche appeal and increase sales.

To learn more about the series as a whole, we recommend reading our Haldeman-Julius Series Identification Guide and Dating Little Blue Books by Jake Gibbs. You may also wish to check out the titles published in the Little Blue Book series in our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles, and visit our Gallery of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Wrappers.

Little Blue Book, Rational Sex Series
Rational Sex Series

The Rational Sex Series is discussed in E. Haldeman-Julius' The First Hundred Million (1928) and may be the first "official" sub-series of the Little Blue Books. The series is believed to have contained thirteen volumes, all authored by William J. Fielding. All booklets reviewed to date have sported Conventional wrappers, and are identifiable as part of the Rational Sex Series only by mention of such (along with supporting volume number) on the copyright page.

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles in the Rational Sex Series.


Little Blue Book, High School Educational Course (Conventional Wrapper)
High School Educational Course

In the late 1920's, Haldeman-Julius began a marketing initiative which aimed to position a set of fifty or sixty Little Blue Books as the autodidactic equivalent of a high school education. These books, christened the High School Educational Course, were sold for $2.98 a set (postpaid) and were said to sport some 825,000 words of text spanning 3,488 pages of copy. All booklets sold as part of the High School Educational Course were bound in Conventional wrappers with no unique features to distinguish them from any other Little Blue Books available at the time.

According to comments and sales figures presented in Haldeman-Julius' My First 25 Years and My Second 25 Years, some 18 million Little Blue Books were sold as part of the High School Educational Course between late 1928 and early 1930. Titles sold this way often doubled or tripled a respective authors other booklet sales; in some cases it surpassed them by an order of magnitude.

For more detailed information on the High School Educational Course we recommend reading A University in Print: The Marketing of Self-Education. You may also wish to check out the titles included in the High School Educational Course in our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles.


Little Blue Book, Automatic Libraries
Automatic Libraries

The Automatic Libraries variant of the Little Blue Book series was available between 1939-1940,1 and were distributed by public vending machines. Test distribution started with ten machines located in St. Louis, Missouri, and operated by Vend-A-Book Co. These machines are said to have offered a choice of four titles.2 It is unknown whether these wrappers differed at all from any other Little Blue Book issued at the time.

Apparently the test was a success, and later in 1939 "Little Blue Book Vendor" machines could be found in a variety of locations including "subways, bus stations, drug stores, and so on".3 These machines offered a choice of 18 titles, and were operated by Automatic Libraries, a division of O. D. Jennings & Company of Chicago, Illinois.4 Whether O. D. Jennings & Company purchased Vend-A-Book Co. (and/or its patents) is unproven, but is assumed.

The booklets made available at these machines were bound in Automatic Libraries wrappers which carried a unique imprint ("Published for Automatic Libraries ...") and, unlike other Little Blue Books at the time, actually always were blue in color.5

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the Little Blue Book titles distributed via Automatic Libraries.


Little Blue Book, Self Educator Series
Self Educator

Around 1943, with the help of his good friend Joseph McCabe, a lengthy and sequentially-numbered run of titles (#1762 to #1811), the longest crafted by a single author in Little Blue Book history, would be developed: the Self Educator. The Self Educator offered a variety of booklets filled with factual information on topics like chemistry, zoology, botany, and literature. Equally, however, these booklets also indulged Haldeman-Julius' and McCabe's mutual beliefs, and we find a great number of works that serve only to "debunk" organized religion, societal prejudice, and sexual puritanism. At present, no concrete end date has been identified for The Self Educator.

Self Educator wrappers are nearly identical to Conventional wrappers, save for the introduction of their own sub-series declaration and associated Self Educator number. For example, LBB #1767 The Mysteries of Embryology and Heredity (pictured here) also bears the text "SELF EDUCATOR NO. 6" in the top right corner of the wrapper. While accurate dating of these booklets is often impossible, wrappers that support a small Typographical Union label under the author's name can be preseumed to have been printed earlier than those without.

For more detailed information on the Self Educator we recommend reading A University in Print: The Marketing of Self-Education. You may also wish to check out the titles issued in the Self Educator series in our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles.


Little Blue Book, The How-To Series
The How-To Series

A very unusual sub-series in that it does not appear to have been composed entirely of Little Blue Books. No. 1 & No. 2, as well as No. 12 to No. 20 were all issued as Little Blue Books, authored by John H. Burma and related to topics in social studies and culture. No. 3 to No. 11, however, appear to have been issued by other methods and in other formats, most particularily as Big Blue Books and perhaps as articles in Haldeman-Julius periodicals like the American Freeman. Unlike the titles issued as LBBs, these others were not authored by John H. Burma, nor were they related to social studies. Additional information may be available in the January 1943 issue of American Freeman but a copy of such has not yet been reviewed to verify.

These booklets were likely first issued in early 1943, and may have continued to be printed (or at least distributed) until plant operations ceased. Accurate dating is virtually impossible, although those How-to wrappers which display a Typographical Union label on the front or back are presumed to be earlier printings, likely between 1943 and 1949.

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the Little Blue Book titles in The How-To Series.


Little Blue Book, Self-Help Library
Self-Help Library

The Self-Help Library was a set of Little Blue Books which grouped together a variety of thematically-similar titles, mostly regarding language use. The series began in 1946 (approximately) and early editions of these booklets bear the University and Print stamp and portrait of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius on the back wrapper. The series continued to be published long after the death of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, as evidenced by booklets which bear mention of the Little-Blue-Books Company. No concrete end date has been identified.

These booklets are easily identified by the stylized banner that is featured across the full width of the front wrap, located near the bottom edge, which reads "Self-Help Library". That said, several different wrapper design styles have been identified, such as the Self-Help and Self-Help Flame. Additional design styles may be discovered by exploring our Gallery of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Wrappers.

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles in the Self-Help Library.


Little Blue Book, Knowledge of Life Series
Knowledge of Life Series

The Knowledge of Life Series was a collection of booklets on themes related to biology, health and sex education. It incorporated several titles from the defunct Rational Sex Series, as well offering additional titles by authors such as Gloria Goddard and Havelock Ellis.

It is not clear exactly when this sub-series emerged, but observation suggests a probable date range of 1946 to at least 1959. It is likely, however, that additional printings may have happened right up until operations ceased in 1978. Accurate dating is virtually impossible based on front wrapper design style alone. Considerations such as typeface and fonts used, number of staples, back wrapper style, etc. must also be taken in to consideration.

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles in the Knowledge of Life Series.


Little Blue Book, Encyclopedia of Humor
Encyclopedia of Humor

According to promotional materials, the Encyclopedia of Humor was an 86-volume set "dealing with every known form of humor." Booklets could be ordered individually, or as a complete collection. At least two titles are known to have been bound in unique Encyclopedia of Humor wrappers, but it is highly unlikely that all booklets in the set were issued in such.

It is not clear exactly when the Encyclopedia of Humor began publication, but evidence suggests it was no earlier than 1951, and likely somewhat later. It is probable they remained in use until plant operations ceased in 1978 but, again, this is mere speculation.

Check out our Database of Haldeman-Julius Pocket Series and Little Blue Book Titles for more information on the titles in the Encyclopedia of Humor.


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Source Citations
1,5Jake Gibbs, "Dating Little Blue Books", [http://www.haldeman-julius.org/haldeman-julius-resources/dating-little-blue-books/]
2E. Haldeman-Julius, "Automatic Library - Phase I The First Use of Vending Machines for the Sale of Little Blue Books, 1938", Page 26, Big Blue Newsletter, No. 4, 2004 [http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/culture/pubs/hjcc/2004/1100-hjcc-bbn04.pdf]. Originally published in Questions and Answers #15, Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1939.
3,4Kerry Segrave, Vending Machines: An American Social History, Page 71 (McFarland, 2002)