Readers new to this page are advised to first read the general introduction to The Reference Catalogue of Current Literature.


A national inclusive book-reference index of all books in print and on sale in the British Isles, with details as to author, title, editor, translator, size, number of pages, series, number of edition, binding – where not cloth – price, whether net or non-net, and publisher’s names /containing/ three hundred and eighty thousand entries /and giving/ over two million details concerning books published and for sale.

London: Whitaker & Sons; New York: Bowker; Toronto: Hobden. 1936

1936 Editorial

New ground is broken with with the appearance of this 1936 edition of The Reference Catalogue of Current Literature.

The history of "The Reference Catalogue" is one of gradual enlargement and improvement consequent upon suggestions from the Trade. In its original form of 1874 it was wholly an invention thought of for the use of the Trade by Joseph Whitaker, and in the "Advertisement" which prefaces the second volume in 1875 and that of 1877 the following appears:

As originally projected, a General Index formed no part of the plan; but as it was clear that half the usefulness of such a catalogue depended upon the Index one was prepared, containing references to nearly Fourteen Thousand Books. The Index prepared for the present volume [1877) is nearly three times the size, and every book of consequence will be found therein. It contains about thirty-two thousand entries from 145 publishers.

Since that time "The Reference Catalogue" has appeared regularly at three- or four-yearly periods, gradually increasing in size until in 1932 (the last issue) it had reached a bulk occupying two feet of shelving in five volumes.

At the request of the booksellers a referendum was taken from the whole of the Trade as to the reducing of the bulk and improving the contents. Consequent upon the almost unanimous opinion expressed, the publishers decided to adopt the format of one volume, which should contain (in two separate Indexes) sufficient details of ALL BOOKS PUBLISHED AND ON SALE, so far as they could be ascertained.

A formula was approved, and in the result no less than 652 publishers desired their lists to be included in this 1936 volume, against the number of 217 publishers whose lists composed the edition of 1932.

In the matter of book-reference. the gain to the Book Trade must be incalculable.

The increase of detail in the index-references naturally demanded a great increase of work. The complexity of entries had to be reduced to uniformity, and a strict schedule maintained. This has been accomplished through the co-operation of all concerned. Publishers readily co-operated in the production of their catalogues and in their simplification; the augmented staff soon attained uniformity of method in the indexing, and Messrs. Unwin Brothers' careful reading, and the keeping of schedule, enabled the publishers to complete on time.

Additional improvements have been made in the other contents of this 1936 edition. The list of publishers (always included) has been enlarged so that it shall contain particulars of the classifications and the types of book they publish, together with a record of the series volumes they issue and their addresses, telephone numbers, etc.

A list of book-sizes has been inserted which will be found useful in conjunction with the abbreviations necessarily adopted in the indexing system. A short list of those books which deai particularly with publishing, bookselling, and librarlanship is also given, as well as the listed totals of books published in 1932, 1933, and 1934.

The index to the preliminary pages of information has been placed on the inside front cover to give quick reference to them. For the same reason the abbreviations used to denote publishers have been placed immediately above the full entry dealing with their publishing house, so that the address, etc., can be seen at a glance.

The Trade generally has been unvarying in offering help and in courteous response whenever required.

This 1936 volume represents the whole work of the Trade in the British Empire brought, now, we hope, to full and easy recognition.

We rely confidently upon the Trade further to improve by suggestions wherever improvement may be found desirable.


Last revised: 16 October 2021