You’ll Never Know What You’ll "Find"
For those of you who are unaware, I operate an online and mobile bookstore and accept donations from others who claim they have ‘so many books’ that they like to give them away. Well, apparently a couple gave me a stack of used books, mostly older like half a century or more. In the middle of choosing which books to sell at my weekly farmers market, I came upon this gem. Rather than explain it to you, I will let the back cover of this title do it for me: (italics and bold mine)
A Harper Find
With Cradle and Clock
By Knud Stowman
A Harper “Find” is a book by a relatively unknown author which has unusual and arresting qualities in its writing, its approach and its subject matter. Each “Find” is given special promotion, a major advertising campaign, and the fullest cooperation of the booksellers is sought so that the book may win the audience it deserves.
The first Harper “Find” was A Genius In The Family by Hiram Percy Maxim, published in 1936. Since then, of twenty-two “Finds”, a large proportion have been best-sellers and all have been acclimated as books of importance. Among these titles were 400 Million Customers by Carl Crow and So Great A Man by David Pilgrim, both published in 1937, Quietly My Captain Waits by Evelyn Eaton, published in 1940, Mom Counted Six by Mac Gardner, published in 1944, Home to India by Santha Rama Rau and Any Number Can Play by Edward Harris Heth, published in 1945.
Before the Book-of-the-month Club took Margaret Leech’s Reveille In Washington it was selected as a “Find” as were Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, a selection of the Literary Guild, and George and Helen Papashvily’s Anything Can Happen, a Book-of-the-month Club choice.
The selection for this season’s “Find” is With Cradle And Clock by Knud Stowman, a book which, by the brilliance of its background, its exciting picture of a man’s determined struggle to fight for his ideals against foolish prejudice and ignorance, and its love story, will certainly take its place with the best of its predecessors.
The price was an astonishing $2.50, but considering the year of With Cradle And Clock’s publication, 1946, that price isn’t so bad. Ah, wouldn’t be nice if booklovers can purchase books at that price again?
Of course, other than the moment I found the book, I have never heard of With Cradle And Clock and I assume not everyone knew about it either. But that’s not the point. The point is this is at a time when publishers like Harper (years before News Corp. took control and renamed it HarperCollins) took a chance on an unknown author, to let the reading audience decide whether or not this title deserved to “take its place with the best of its predecessors.”
In our present time, agents and not publishers are most willing to take on a new writer if they have a platform and a guarantee their book will sell. Harper was willing to take that chance on a new author which as far as what I’m reading, didn’t require a solicited manuscript, i.e., a manuscript approved by agents they know to approve or disapprove of the work. While there are a few independent publishers taking on the model from Harper by publishing new authors, due to the fact so many aspiring authors are writing now and sending in manuscripts that may or not be legible, even the publishers have taken stances to limit their generosity.
Harper Find was a great concept, it just came at a time when life wasn’t as cluttered as it is now. It’s safe to say this but it was also a concept that at least in mainstream publishing won’t happen again based on the present models of selling books by celebrities or public figures they’re following today. Too bad, because everyone needs to ‘find’ a good book and there are plenty of them out there. Maybe they will earn that chance and one day fall into the hands of book lovers and readers who determine or not they’re worthy to be found.
Authors N Focus Extra