Sunday, November 27, 2016

A memory

With the real end of the Gutenberg Era (Kindle gave it the final quietus), I have finally stopped buying books, having accumulated some 14,000, a real problem for my executor (who says he can bear it, though). In my leisure I am working systematically through certain fields, typography being the most current.
How did this madness start? In 1944 at the age of ten I began frequenting the magazine racks of drugstores. Pocket books were also sold there, but at 25 cents they were more than I could afford. Then I saw an advertisement for the Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Books, which sold in the mail for twenty items for one dollar. They were tiny: 3 1/2 x 5 inches. So I chose twenty varied titles. There was even one on "Homo-sexuality," but I had no idea what that was and didn't order it.
The tiny book that made the greatest impression on me was an introduction to Esperanto, and for some years I pursued the topic of international languages - at the public library of course. The UK's Penguin Books had been introduced into the US in 1938 but the war made distribution hard.
There was a domestic scholarly offshoot, pocket sized, that some may remember called Mentor Books. Once I started working after school I could afford these at 35 cents a copy. And away I went.


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