The “Little Blue Books” were published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius from about 1919 to 1947. They were small, cheaply produced, and sold for around a nickel. There were over 2000 of them; the exact number, despite diligent scholars, is unknown, since the books were often retitled, assigned new numbers, or replaced by other books.
Haldeman-Julius started the series explicitly to promote socialism, atheism, science, the theory of evolution, sex education, and other progressive causes. He soon added joke books, recipes, short stories, how-to guides, language instruction, and other more commercial material.
Neither Charles Fort nor Tiffany Thayer contributed to the catalog; but several of the Founders did, as well as many later members, some more active than others. It’s worth pointing out that many of the Founders lent their names to help Fort sell books, and had no interest in Thayer’s antics. (There’s an interesting cache of letters in the University of Virginia, in which a number of the hapless Founders make this explicit.)
Theodore Dreiser was one of Fort’s oldest friends and staunchest supporters, and one of the first to flee when Thayer got frisky. Haldeman-Julius published three Dreiser titles in 1924, each containing two short pieces: 659 was taken from Free, and Other Stories; 660 from Twelve Men; and 661 from Hey Rub-A-Dub-Dub. (W. L. S., by the way, was the illustrator William Lewis Sonntag, Jr.) In 1931, “How the Great Corporations Rule the United States” was released as part of a collection of articles by various writers, including pieces on black civil rights, the labor movement, and other topics. Dreiser, the most famous name, was the only one credited on the cover.
(Posted by Doug Skinner)