Carlton House

aka/ Carleton House Classics

Carlton House Publications (imprint of Random House) (New York, US)
Series dates: 1936-1970
Size: 5.75″ x 8.25″


Carleton House was an imprint of Random House, publisher of the Modern Library. According to The Publishers Weekly, “Carlton House was established in the fall of 1936. (Publishers Weekly, October 24th, 1936) by Random House. Among its activities, Carlton House published a number of reprints at odd-penny prices, in order to test the market for odd-priced specials.” Gordon Neavill, in a 2007 posting on the ModLib (Modern Library Collectors) discussion list (source) indicates that the imprint “was used mainly for ‘specials’ intended primarily for sale by department stores. The books were often printed from ML plates and were generally works in the public domain. If printing costs dipped temporarily they would take advantage of it and run off a batch of Carleton House books.” There were some well-known sales of Modern Library titles in the late 1930s, as the series was heading towards a major reformatting and a significant number of titles were discontinued. These titles were stamped “Discontinued Title” and sold at greatly reduced prices. It is possible this was the impetus for an “on sale” series of what were in essence Modern Library titles.

Most of the Carlton House titles were published in the 1950s. Reprints continue sporadically in the 1960s and 1970s. I end the series in 1970 as that is the end year for the original Modern Library series.

Carlton House titles are larger format (8vo) and come across as a discount book series. Titles are uniformly from the Modern Library and use the Modern Library printing plates. Given the larger size of the Carlton House books, the margins are ample. This copy of Best Russian Short Stories is, as with most Carlton House books, undated. It is probably from the early 1950s. The book does contain copyright dates of 1917 (Boni & Liveright) and 1925 (Modern Library) which are often mistaken for printing dates with these titles. Jackets vaguely resemble the designs of the Modern Library jackets for each title, and the fonts used are the same. A blurb about the title fills the front jacket flap. No prices were printed on the jackets, as Random House priced the books for specific sales (and according to what they paid to have the books printed).


The back of the jacket advertises available Carlton House “Classics.” All are longtime Modern Library titles, also available in that series. The American College Dictionary is advertised on the rear jacket flap.


Bindings are cheap, dark cloth with red and gold stamping. The design is both ornate and cheap looking.


The half-title page:


The title page:


The copyright page:


The plates used for this larger format (8vo) book are the same as those used for the smaller format Modern Library, which was 6.5″ x 4.25″ from 1925-1939 and 5″ x 7.25″ from 1940-1970. Ample margins are evident.