Friday, July 12, 2019

“Magnificent Nature Guides”

[Life, September 29, 1952. Click for a much larger view.]

“How can these magnificent Nature Guides be sold at only $1 each?” The advertisement provides the answer:

With a normal first edition of 10,000 copies, these books would retail at from $3 to $5 a copy. But the 75,000–100,000 printing of each book lowered the unit cost to a point at which the publishers were able to employ the highest standards and yet produce these books for as little as $1.
A shorter supplemental answer: Because it’s 1952.

I love Golden Nature Guides, or the idea of Golden Nature Guides. I have the Rocks and Minerals: A Guide to Minerals, Gems, and Rocks (1957) and Trees: A Guide to Familiar American Trees (1987). And from the Golden Science series, Weather: A Guide to Phenomena and Forecasts (1965). From the back covers of the older books:
These 160 page books overflow with accurate full color illustrations and concise, double-checked information which makes identification and understanding the subject easy and enjoyable.
The back cover of Weather might have also mentioned Harry McNaught’s beautifully melancholy illustrations of “phenomena”: rain, more rain, and snow.

comments: 5

Chris said...

I grew up on the Golden Guides and still have a handful. Fun fact: there was once a volume in the series devoted to hallucinogenic plants, though I never made use of it. It was written by the noted Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. Used copies now sell in the $200.00 range, which would have made a fine return on the inintial investment.

Michael Leddy said...

Wow — they kept up with the times. I just discovered that my local used-book store has a copy : $125.

Elaine said...

I had the Rocks and Minerals, Birds, Trees, Wildflowers, Insects, Reptiles and Amphibians, and maybe a couple more. I still had them when my children came along.... Perennials! I finally gave them away after my nest emptied....SOB.

BTW, you have ruined MY day, because I am stuck on the Saturday Stumper (NW corner giving me fits)....and you called it EASY. Bah! (Sob)

Michael Leddy said...

That was my Secretary of Puzzles speaking. He’s the SOB, not me!

(I know you meant sobbing.)

Michael Leddy said...

If there’s any doubt — the comments from Elaine and me are both in fun. Fooling around. Kidding.