Authored By: Nicola Wilson
The Book Society was the first book subscription club in Britain, modelled on the American Book-of-the-Month Club. Set up at the end of 1928 and launched in April 1929, by the 1930s it had over 10,000 members.
It was a major distributor of new books by mail through the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, distributing worldwide.
The Book Society received huge discounts from publishers in return for initial orders of 9000+ copies for a Book Society Choice. Guaranteed first edition sales of this scale enabled some publishers to reduce the net price of first editions if they were able to have a work chosen.
The first set of club judges was headed by Hugh Walpole and included J. B. Priestley, Sylvia Lynd, Clemence Dane and George Gordon. Later judges on the selection committee include Edmund Blunden, Cecil Day-Lewis and Julian Huxley.
The judges read books in proof form, before publication, and before WW2, a Book Society Choice was part of the publisher's ordinary first edition.