Great Grosset & Dunlap!



Although reprints are considered a step down from true first editions of a book, in some cases they are the only attainable choice because of scarcity or price on firsts of famous titles. Of course, there are reprints, and then there are reprints. One well-known publishing house that produced reprints almost exclusively was Grosset & Dunlap. We love Grosset & Dunlap books, especially their adult literature from approximately 1925 to 1945 and here’s why: they selected interesting works by respected authors, used quality materials, and manufactured well-constructed, attractive books and dust jackets that wore remarkably well and have stood the test of time so much better than most books of the era. Grosset & Dunlap sometimes produced a more solid and attractive reprint edition than the original book. Perhaps best known to collectors for their Photoplay Editions (books on which later films were based and containing scenes from the film or “photo play”) they also published popular children’s series books such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and Tom Swift among others.

One of the nicer collector’s niches we recently discovered is Grosset & Dunlap’s “Novels of Distinction” series, which consisted of at least 120 titles by acclaimed authors. Books in this series had especially high quality cloth bindings, often with decorated endpapers. The front inside flap of the dustjacket would state that it was a “Novel of Distinction”, and list all the currently available titles in the series. These books make interesting collecting, because they are handsome books, good literature, and can be challenging to locate. Below are a few highlights from a list of the series taken from the front flap of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, which was published by Grosset & Dunlap as a novel of distinction in 1929:

• The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Thornton Wilder)

• Early Autumn (Louis Bromfield)
• Brief Candles (Aldous Huxley)
• Bright Metal (T. S. Stribling)
• The Haunted Bookshop (Christopher Morley)
• The Moon and Sixpence (W. Somerset Maugham)
• The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
• The Professor’s House (Willa Cather)
• Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham)
• Marching On (James Boyd)
• The Way Things Are (E. M. Delafield)

…and over a hundred more! The full collection would make an impressive literature library. Great books – moderate prices, when compared to the first editions of any of these titles.

 To view available NOVELS OF DISTINCTION at Old Scrolls Book Shop, click here:

Grosset & Dunlap was established in 1898 by Alexander Grosset (1870-1934) and George Terry Dunlap (1864-1956), who started their own publishing company after they were left jobless following the demise of the American Publishers Corporation. After some experimentation with placing cloth covers on paperback books, selling pirated copies of books, and other shaky beginnings, they finally settled on a system of buying rights to a book before publication, so the original publisher would deliberately print an overrun and sell the excess after sales of the original edition waned. Grosset and Dunlap would supply their own covers & dustjackets to books printed from the original plates. Later they began to purchase the original plates and publish their own editions; in this way they could print as many copies as they could sell.

The first book to bear the Grosset and Dunlap imprint was The Damnation of Theron Ware, published with Herbert S. Stone & Co. The first to carry only the Grosset and Dunlap imprint was Janice Meredith.

The company was purchased by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1982 and today is part of the British publishing conglomerate, Pearson PLC through its American subsidiary Penguin Group (USA). Since the 1940s, Grosset has published the Illustrated Junior Library, a collection of hardcover editions of Little Women, Tom Sawyer, and more than twenty other classics. Today, through the Penguin Group (USA) they publish approximately 170 titles a year.