2018 is now in full swing. In late January I wrapped up my commitments to my regional Mock Newbery and Caldecott committees (and introduced a book for Newbery!) and February kicked off a regional Teen Literature Reading Challenge that I join every year in the hopes of out-reading friendly rivals. On top of that, I’m still not fully happy with my latest book review. Instead of further editing that post (it’s coming eventually, I swear) or launching into the Teen Lit Reading Challenge, I decided to embark on a larger project involving all Grosset and Dunlap first edition romances. Who else has ever done something super useful while putting off another thing?
Earlier tonight, I started pulling books from my shelves to photograph the advertisements for the Grosset and Dunlap project. At first, I was just looking for the cleanest example of each advertising panel but then I started noticing patterns. Before tonight, I assumed whatever advertising panel was on the back of my book was random or from a very loose era at best and never paid close attention to it. That was a mistake. It turns out, each year roughly corresponds to a separate advertising panel.
The photo at the top of this post is in chronological order with 1929 on the left and 1934 on the right.
Each year has its own advertising panel design for the Grosset and Dunlap romances. The titles advertised sometimes change throughout the year, but the overall design remains the same. Also, I’m finding a few straggler titles per year with the old design of the previous year. For example, the 1931 design does have a few 1932 published titles. The 1933 photographic design appears to be short-lived, as the final design on the right is a mixture of 1933 and 1934 publications.
Before these shared panels rolled out, my 1929 and earlier Grosset and Dunlap titles have either an author feature advertisement on the back (e.g Beatrice Burton, Vida Hurst, May Christie) or a unique panel. A few of those authors, like Beatrice Burton, were more likely to continue to have her own advertising panel into the era of the “Sparkling Romance of the Modern Girl” dust jackets. Around 1934, as the Grosset and Dunlap first edition romances began their sunset, a few were produced with photographic panels displaying characters in a dramatic pose from the novel.
So readers, now we know. Tonight I learned a new party trick: how to tell with reasonable accuracy what year a Grosset and Dunlap title was published just by looking at the rear panel of the dust jacket. Higher quality photos of the dust jackets will have to wait until I roll out my larger project. This is, after all, a work night.
See if the dust jacket advertising panel pattern matches more examples! Copies of 1929-1934 Grosset and Dunlap romance novels are available here.