Posted on February 24, 2021 at 3:48 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Penguin Books (accurately) receives credit for popularizing the idea of the paperback book. 

But it certainly wasn’t the first publisher to market books that were higher quality at a lower price.

Charles Boni, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, tried first a subscription club called Boni Paper Books and then an imprint that produced “quality paperbacks” called Bonibooks.

And, says Literary Hub, while the business failed to thrive (partly because of the Great Depression and possibly also because of Boni’s odd editorial selection), a complete set of every book Boni published has survived to this day.

The fifty-three paperbacks range from classic — Moby Dick and Madame Bovary, for example — to a little more pulpy — The Cardinal’s Mistress by Benito Mussolini (yes, the dictator) and The Brooklyn Murders.

Honey & Wax Booksellers, which currently owns the collection, is looking to sell it for $4,200; if you have that room in your book budget, head over to Lit Hub to read more about Boni and his books.

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Categories: Today in Books

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