Regnery had owned the rights to the Oz books for over twenty years and had tried very hard to reinvigorate the series by issuing abridgments, a new Oz book, major publicity, and finally repackaging the fourteen Baum titles into the "white editions" we all know from the 1960s and '70s.
Around 1971 Regnery struck an agreement with Rand McNally to issue paperback versions of the "white editions." They were the same size as the hardcovers, but much less expensive, retailing originally for only $1.50.
By 1978 Regnery's attitude toward the Oz books was somewhat ambivalent. But not wanting to sever their long association with L. Frank Baum, they decided to cut costs and reissue the Oz books as undersized paperbacks and put the cloth-bound "white editions" out of print. The paperback rights were withdrawn from Rand McNally. Fred Meyer announced that the Rand McNally paperbacks were officially out-of-print at the 1978 Winkie Convention.
|Cloth bound "white edition" at left - mini paperback at right.|
These new Regnery paperbacks were quite small, measuring only 5" by 7 1/2", and retailed for $3.95, double the then $1.95 Rand McNally had charged for the full-size paperbacks. Regnery created new cover art for the new paperbacks - simplified versions of Dick Martin's "white edition" covers. Some shading lines are removed from the images and the faces are rendered a bit simpler and more "modern" looking. The title and credits were replaced too with more modern looking type.
I bought these little books when they came out. I recall two releases a few months apart. But I was surprised when I noticed the publisher info had changed. Some were published by Regnery. These say Regnery on the spine, "Henry Regnery / Chicago" on the title page, and list Regnery's address (180 North Michigan Avenue) on the copyright page. Other have CBI on the spine and list the publisher as Contemporary Books, Inc. on the title page and copyright page at the same 180 North Michigan Avenue address. Exactly what's going on is unclear. It is my memory that the Regnery imprint came first, followed by the CBI imprint. I bought one each of the books I found. My understanding is that CBI owned Regnery which owned Reilly and Lee.
Just as all this is happening in 1978-'79 Judy Lynn and Lester Del Rey (of Del Rey books) have a notion they would like to try issuing the Oz books as mass-market paperbacks. Regnery/CBI agrees and the mini-Oz books are quickly put out of print, thus ending the last connection between L. Frank Baum's Oz books with their original publisher.
I began this blog by saying a friend and I were discussing these little books. The debate point was how many of the mini-Oz books were issued. I was actively trying to obtain them as they were issued and went so far as to try and keep track by getting on the CBI catalog list. I never found evidence of more than seven of Baum's fourteen being issued - the seven you see in the photo above. Over the years I have kept my eyes out for others, scanned shelves of friends' books, and I have yet to find any evidence the others were ever published in this format.
I did however notice that some of my friend's copies (he doesn't have all seven) have differing publisher imprints than mine: he has CBI versions of Ozma and Rinkitink, showing that those two titles at least got more than one printing. My friend immediately pointed out that the 1988 revision of Bibliographia Oziana says all fourteen were issued. I found it hard to believe that in decades of being on the lookout I had never once seen one of the missing seven titles. And in my opinion it doesn't even seem like there was enough time for the series to have been completed before Del Rey took over. I have asked Peter Hanff and Douglas Greene, who together did the revisions for the 1988 edition of Bibliographia Oziana, about their claim that all fourteen were issued. Neither had much interest in these late printings and the claim that all fourteen were issued seems to have been unverified.
So here's my little query: Does anyone out there have Regnery or CBI paperbacks of Land, Dorothy and the Wizard, Emerald City, Patchwork Girl, Tik-Tok, Tin Woodman, or Glinda? If you do, please comment and let me know what you have. I'd also be happy to hear if you have any different combination of publisher imprint. You can see which titles I have as CBI and which I have as Regnery by looking at the first photo above.
I'm most curious!