UK Services Editions


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Mind the gaps - Part 2

Posted by Baronbern on March 2, 2014 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (1675)

The series of Collins Services Editions is not the only one with missing titles (see previous post). Guild Books too allocated numbers to their books and after a bit more detective work recently, I have now identified titles and authors for 215 of the numbers from S1 to S231 (see checklist page), leaving 16 mis...

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Mind the gaps

Posted by Baronbern on February 27, 2014 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (126)

One of the many problems of collecting Services Editions is to know what you’re looking for. Most book collectors at least know the authors and titles of the books they want to find! For some of the books I’d most like to find, all I know is the publisher, and that they have ‘Services Edition’ written on the front cover.

For some publishers, there are at least series numbers, and a gap in the numbering of the known titles indicates a likely missi...

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Re-educating Prisoners of War

Posted by Baronbern on June 10, 2013 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (27)

In an earlier blog post I speculated on the origins of the Bücherreihe Neue Welt series produced for German Prisoners of War in the US, and contrasted it with the Penguin Prisoner of War editions in the UK. Now in a fascinating article written by Mary Burgoyne, a noted Joseph Conrad scholar, for ‘Th...

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The half-life of books

Posted by Baronbern on February 15, 2012 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (153)

Do books have a half-life? In other words, does exponential decay apply to the number of remaining copies of the first printing of a book?  If the initial print run of a book were 10,000 copies and the half-life were 10 years, then after 20 years there would be 2,500 copies left and after 60 years, around 150 or so.  Of course different books would have different half-lives. Luxurious hardback books would have quite a long half-life, whereas poor quality paperbacks woul...

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Not a Services Edition

Posted by Baronbern on March 19, 2011 at 6:08 AM Comments comments (24)

H&S published many hundreds of ‘Yellow Jacket’ novels, both paperback and hardback, in a wide variety of cover and dustwrapper styles. The handful of Services Yellow Jackets were just a tiny fraction of their output.


But I had always thought that the cover design for the Services editions was unique to this series. It shows a sort of stylised view out over the sea, with what is presumably meant to be the White Cliffs of Dover in the foreground, perhaps inspi...

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New ideas

Posted by Baronbern on December 10, 2010 at 5:38 PM Comments comments (126)

'The largest book give-away ever attempted' is the catchy title of an initiative to give away a million free books to celebrate World Book Night in 2011.  Great idea, but maybe just a little over-hyped.  In 1945, Hutchinson as just one publisher, gave away a million free books - see my blog posted on August 17.  Now it takes the whole book industry working together to ...

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Prolific authors

Posted by Baronbern on December 10, 2010 at 4:47 PM Comments comments (22)

As I’ve suggested in an earlier blog (see 'The choice of titles' posted on 6 June 2010), it is Collins that seems to have made the most effort to provide what the military authorities were asking for, in terms of genre fiction, including crime novels and westerns. Guild Books retained a more eclectic mix of titles and authors, treading more on Penguin territory, if not quite as highbrow as some of Penguin’s own selections.


One consequence is that there is a much...

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A foot in both camps

Posted by Baronbern on November 13, 2010 at 3:54 AM Comments comments (124)

What really was the relationship between Collins and Guild Books? As publishers of the two main series of Services Editions they might appear to be competitors, but oddly several of the Guild editions were actually published by Collins themselves. Wartime conditions of course meant that some of the normal rules of competition were effectively suspended, but this does look rather odd.


It’s hard to see that Collins would ever have had much interest in getting involved i...

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Free at last

Posted by Baronbern on August 17, 2010 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (3)

In 1945 Hutchinson gave away one million books to the Armed Forces as a Free Victory Gift. The evidence for this is the wording on the front cover of the few copies I have in my collection. A million books sounds a lot, but it’s not easy to find copies of them now. That may be because not all of them had the standard covers that identify them as part of the giveaway, but I suspect most of them did. It seems clear from the scarcity of many of the other Services Editions that it’s s...

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Prisoners of War in the US

Posted by Baronbern on July 30, 2010 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (158)

It’s interesting to compare the Penguin POW editions with a similar German series - the Bücherreihe Neue Welt. Similar at least in the sense that these are special paperback editions produced for Prisoners of War. If there’s some doubt though about how many of the Penguins actually made it to their intended destination, there’s no such doubt about the Neue Welt books. Almost all of the copies I’ve seen have POW camp stamps or stickers inside them.


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