Tower Books

World Publishing Co. (Cleveland, New York, US)
Series dates: 1939-1948
Size: 5.75″ x 8″

“Polish immigrant Alfred H. Cahen founded the Commercial Bookbinding Co. in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1902, expanding and adding a printing plant by 1912. In 1928 Cahen bought out his largest competitor, New York’s World Syndicate Publishing Co., officially taking on the name World Publishing Co. in 1935” (source). Ben Zevin (Cahen’s son-in-law, who became president of the company in 1945) moved the firm into trade publishing in the late 1930s. He developed several successful reprint series, including the Tower Books, first issued in 1939 (source).

Tower Books were priced at .49 cents each and sold a million copies their first year (source). The books were popular and classic fiction. Paper rationing during the war slowed production of the books, and the series seems to have been abandoned around 1948, as the Living Library series grew.

This copy of John Steinbeck’s collection of short stories, The Long Valley, was first printed in the Tower Books series in February 1945. The original copyright date is 1938, when the book was published by Viking. The artwork (by Elmer Hader) used for the original edition is reused on the Tower Books edition. Tower Books is indicated on the jacket spine, as is a series number T-339. The front jacket flap includes a stamped .49 cent price and a description of the book.

The rear jacket flap includes titles in the series. It indicates “Continued from back cover” but in this instance, that is not the case. Other Tower Book titles do have series titles on the back of the jacket. the titles are a mix of classics and newer fiction.

“Send this book to a boy in the armed forces anywhere for only 4 cents postage” is included at the bottom of the rear jacket flap.

Brown cloth binding with gold typography:

The half-title page:

A list of books by Steinbeck face the title page.

The copyright page includes the original 1937 publication information and the 1945 Tower Books publication data.