REDUX: Little Leather Library

Scot Kamins kamins at dogeared.com
Fri Dec 31 21:13:32 EST 2004


Here's a posting that appeared 20 Sep 1995 in rec.collecting.books 
from our own Gordon B. Neavill on the subject of value:

"The Little Leather Library was founded around 1915 and sold
millions of volumes before ceasing operations in 1923. It was a
significant example of mass-marketing. Initially the books were sold
through Woolworth's, then by mail order. You could buy 30 of the
little volumes boxed for $2.98, C.O.D. The series was conceived
by Albert Boni, who sold his interest and then went on to start the
Modern Library. His partners in the venture, Harry Scherman and
Max Sackheim, used what they learned about mail-order selling of
books to start the Book-of-the-Month Club. Woolworth's sold a
million copies a year, and 35-40 million volumes were sold by mail.
They aren't too hard to find and aren't worth very much--a couple of
dollars a volume would be about right. A boxed set of 30 volumes
might sell from $50 to $100 [in 1995]. A historically significant venture in
publishing, and so successful in its brief heyday that the books have
little value today."

There were several sets of LLL's. I know of at least 90 titles; there may
be more.

Meanwhile, here's a bit more on the history of the series (or set of
series, as the case may be). I don't know where I got this, but here it is
for what it's worth:

"One of Sackheim's most famous campaigns was for the Little Leather Library
Corporation. A small sample of the book cover material was included in the
direct mail package, and prospects were asked to guess how much they
thought 30 books bound in that lovely leatherette would cost. To help the
prospect with their decision, the mail piece went on to describe the
sensational 30-book library in vivid detail. Once an amount had been
guessed, the prospect could open a seal to learn the amazing price of only
$2.98 for all 30. Since most prospects had guessed the books to cost up to
$50, the prospect sold himself. The Little Leather Library was the
predecessor to the original 'book-of-the-month-club,' and 'negative option
plan' also invented by Sackheim.

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      `\|||/                     Scot Kamins
       (@@)
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