John B. Alden
New York, 1879-1908

THE "GREAT SUCCESS." -- from The Publishers' Weekly, No. 511 (October 29, 1881), p543.

Mr. John B. Alden, the affable manager of the "Literary Revolution," has taken rather kindly to the remarks concerning the practical collapse of the "Revolution" made in the PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY," the commonly acredited organ (or, as some might say, considering its size and tone, ' Jewsharp') of the publishers and booksellers of the United States." In his usual cheerful way of looking at things he makes capital of the very debris. He answers with figures. He always answers facts with figures as readily as the grammar school-boy puts down the "millions" on his slate, and as promptly is ready for any sort of an explanation. Referring to the "stand-still," he plausibly calls it a "temporary withdrawal" and in the same facetious manner announces:

"As soon as we can overtake this demand (of which there is no probability for many months to come), we shall resume the publication of our miscellaneous books, when it is our purpose to make them generally of quality superior to our average in the past, and, consequently, at higher prices. Therefore, if you wish to secure any of our miscellaneous books at the extremely low prices heretofore given, you will have to buy them at the coming auction-sale in November."

The italics are our own. One of the big blasts of the Revolution was "you want no books more beautiful than ours "

The Bookseller and Stationer ("that Chicago fellow" and "good friend'), commenting on the same remarks turned to so good account by the clever "manager," takes this view of the matter:

"In explanation of .the above it may be said that the American Book Exchange has achieved a "second revolution," which its manager claims to be a more wonderful success than his first, and we are inclined for once to agree with him. He has advertised to close out his entire stock of miscellaneous books at a discount of thirty-three per cent from previous prices, and what is left of them will be dumped into a New York auction house early in November. Thereafter the Exchange will discontinue all its miscellaneous publications, notwithstanding the enormous profits they have been unceasingly. bringing into its treasury, according to its gifted manager's assertion, and devote its attention to the publication of an Encyclopedia."

Last revised: 6 December 2010