UK Services Editions


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First printings and reprints on the Guild Editions

Posted by Baronbern on May 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

As if it wasn’t hard enough to find Services Editions anyway, there’s the added problem that many of the most common ones are reprints, and it’s not easy to tell the difference. It’s a problem in different ways on both the Guild and Collins series.


Before 1946 the Guild Services Editions were printed by a variety of different printers, although in a common format, and in the standard paperback size of the time, roughly 18 x 11.2 cm. If they were reprinted, and not many were, it was recorded in the printing history on the title page verso.


At some point in 1946 though, all printing was switched to the Amalgamated Press, and the format changed. The basic design remained the same, but the size increased to a ‘digest’ format, roughly 17.7 x 13.2 cm., with the diagonal white stripe no longer stretching right across the front and rear covers. Unlike the earlier books, the digest books were held together with staples, and surviving copies often show rust damage.


As well as a relatively small number of new titles in this format (series numbers S210 to S231), a large number of the previous titles were reprinted by the Amalgamated Press, but unfortunately without any indication of this in the printing history. The only way of recognising these as reprints therefore is the format. Any books in this series numbered before S210 and in the wider digest format are 1946 reprints, whatever they say on the printing history.





First printing on the left, reprint on the right.


With the winding up of the Services Editions operation later in 1946, many of the later printings were in the end surplus to requirements and were sold off through W.H. Smith. As they all had clearly printed on the back ‘This book must not be resold’, it was necessary to override this by a sticker on the front saying that they had been authorised for sale at 1 shilling. These copies sold through W.H. Smith tend to be much easier to find now than copies distributed far and wide to the Armed Forces, so it’s quite common to see the sticker, or the remains of one, on any 1946 printings, but particularly on the wider Amalgamated Press editions.


Whether showing the sticker or not though, there are many titles for which the digest format reprint is now much more common than the standard format 1st printing. As there’s no indication in the printing history to show that they are reprints, most booksellers happily describe them as 1st printings. Caveat emptor.


I'll come back to the Collins editions in my next posting.

What's included?

Posted by Baronbern on May 16, 2010 at 12:49 PM Comments comments (0)

What counts as a services edition, and how many of them are there? The long series from Guild Books and from Collins are definitely included, as are the shorter series from Nicholson & Watson, Methuen, Hammond & Hammond, Penguin and Hutchinson. All of these are paperback series that are clearly marked as Services Editions on the covers. The Hodder & Stoughton Services Yellow Jackets are also included. Between them, these eight series add up to around 480 books.


Then rather different, but also very similar, are the Penguin Forces Book Club editions. There are 120 of these, issued in sets of 10 each month from October 1942 to September 1943 and sold on a subscription basis to units in the Armed Forces. If they are to be included, it’s difficult to exclude the Penguin Prisoner of War editions, particularly as many of them are just the Forces Book Club editions rebound into a new cover. That would be another 110 books or so.


Then what about the Hutchinson ‘Free Victory Gift’ paperbacks, given away to the Armed Forces in 1945? According to the covers, Hutchinson gave away a million of these books, but I have no idea how many different titles there were. I know of around 20. So on a wide definition, we’re now up to around 730 paperbacks.


And that’s not all. There are hardbacks too. Most of the Hutchinson paperbacks were also issued in bound editions, and there are a small number of other hardbacks, identified as Services Editions on the title page or in the printing history.


For what it’s worth, my intention on this site is to concentrate on the eight series identified in the first paragraph, but I’ll also be referring to the other series from time to time, and getting as much information as I can about them up on the site.


Posted by Baronbern on May 8, 2010 at 1:17 PM Comments comments (0)


I'm creating this website today to publish information on the UK Services Editions.  As far as I can tell there's no other site available with much information on these books, and there are very few collections in existence.  Neither the British Library nor the Imperial War Museum have any significant collection of them, nor any other library that I know of.  The books are mostly paperbacks, and many of the remaining copies are now in poor condition, so it's becoming increasingly difficult to find them.


I don't have a compete list of Services Editions, and I don't know of any that's available, but I intend to publish the information that I have on this site.  If you can add any further information, please let me know, and if you have any copies that you can offer me, so much the better.  I have copies of around 300 Services Editions, but there are many more, probably over 500 altogether.