Continental drift

With its long series of Services Editions, the British Publishers Guild had found a useful purpose.  But as the war moved towards an end, it had to look around for other things to do.   A re-launch of the series of paperbacks it had started in the early years of the war was certainly a possibility, but were there other opportunities?    They found a partial answer to this in producing English language books for sale in continental Europe, launching first a series of Continental Editions, followed by specific series for Germany and Austria.

Guild Continental C1  Guild German G10 Adventures in Arabia  Guild Austrian A5 Fiesta

Books from the Guild Continental, Guild German and Guild Austrian series

All three series look very similar, using a standard cover design, but the practical arrangements and the purposes of the series seem to be rather different.   The Continental Editions, numbered C1 to C10, are described as ‘Published for the British Publishers Guild by AB Ljus Förlag, Stockholm’.   This follows the formulation used in the Services Editions,and suggests that the Guild itself had little more than a co-ordination role.  In effect this was probably a series published by Ljus in Sweden, using Guild Books branding and authorisations from the original publishers who were members of the Guild.

Sweden had remained neutral throughout the war, but there would have been few opportunities for Swedish publishers to sell English language books elsewhere on the continent.  By early 1945, new possibilities were opening up in the wake of the Allied advances, and with Tauchnitz and Albatross still absent from the market, it might have seemed a good time to launch a new series.  The Guild Continental Editions are relatively lavish paperbacks in comparison with their Services Editions or indeed anything that was being produced in Britain at the time.   These are definitely not War Economy Standard books.  They were printed in Sweden and so presumably not subject to the paper rationing and other restrictions that so affected book production in Britain.  The paper is better quality, the margins are bigger, and they even revert to the pre-war practice of dustwrappers in the same design as the books.

Guild Continental C7 The endless furrow  Guild Continental C9 North with the pintail

Guild Continental Editions C7 and C9

Nevertheless the series only ran to ten books, all published in either late 1944 or early 1945, so presumably it was not a success.   Most of the books are relatively easy to find now, often turning up in the Netherlands, which may have been one of the main markets, but they’re found in Britain too, sometimes sporting a 2/- sticker.   It looks as if copies were left unsold on the continent and then sent on for sale in Britain after the war.

One book in particular seems to have suffered this fate.   Book C4 ‘Afoot in England’ by W.H. Hudson turns up occasionally in continental Europe, but more often in the UK, where it appears in a brightly coloured dustwrapper, specially printed for the UK market and carrying  a series number (453) for the Guild Books post-war UK series.   This dates it to around 1952, so the books presumably remained unsold for 7 years in Sweden before the publishers decided to cut their losses.

Guild Continental C4 UK dustwrapper

I’ll look at the rather different German and Austrian editions from Guild Books in other posts.


Posted on October 22, 2014, in Vintage Paperbacks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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