Thursday, February 11, 2010
Buck Rogers and Big Little Books
Grandpa and dad probably were thrilled by the adventures of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century presented by a unique [and now valuable] presentation in what were known as Big Little Books.
The Big Little Books, first published during 1932 by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, were small, compact books designed with a captioned illustration opposite each page of text. Other publishers, notably Saalfield, adopted this format after Whitman achieved success with its early titles, priced initially at 10¢ each (later 15¢).
A Big Little Book was typically 3⅝″ wide and 4½″ high, with 212 to 432 pages making an approximate thickness of 1½″. The interior book design usually displayed full-page black-and-white illustrations on the right side, facing the pages of text on the left. Stories were often related to radio programs (The Shadow), comic strips (The Gumps), children's books (Uncle Wiggily), novels (John Carter of Mars) and movies (Bambi). Later books of the series had interior color illustrations.
After the first Big Little Book, The Adventures of Dick Tracy, was published (December 1932), numerous titles were sold through Woolworth's and other retail store systems during the 1930s. With a name change to Better Little Books during 1938, the series continued into the 1960s.