Friday, January 14, 2011

Appletons' Town and Country Library

Yesterday I discovered that from 1881 to about 1900 Appletons published a series of novels semi-monthly in a series they called Appletons' Town and Country Library. The novels are mostly, if not all, reprints and are by American and English and European authors. Of course my initial reaction was, as I'm sure the publisher hoped, I want them all! According to what information I've been able to find (and surprisingly I haven't found much), each novel was printed in both paperback and cloth editions. I downloaded two from Google Books and began reading one, The Silence of Dean Maitland by Maxwell Gray, No. 9 in the series. This is one of the country novels, set in the English countryside. It begins on a winter evening with Alma Lee trudging up a steep hill laden with parcels. The atmosphere is wonderfully drawn. What I've read so far I like. As I've said before, whether I finish reading a book depends on whether I care about what happens to the characters. To this point I do care about what happens to Alma. And I want to know what Dean Maitland is silent about; and why is he silent?

For those of you who are interested, here is a link to a list of 280 titles in the Town and Country Library. I have found another seven titles which do not appear on this list, and then it seems the series was ended. I think it was a brilliant market ploy and one that I was surprised to find in the 19th century book trade. I wish I knew more about the series, such as whose idea was it and why did it end.

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