Wednesday, October 21, 2015

White Edition Wednesday - Weekly Reader Goes to Oz

My loyalest readers may recall one of our most popular blog series, "White Edition Wednesday." I am quite pleased to offer an additional installment! If you prefer, you can re-read the entire "White Edition Wednesday" series from the beginning by clicking here:

In our WEW post called "Offspring," I mentioned the Weekly Reader boxed sets as seen above. These boxes survive in a number of Oz collections, though they do not always have the same books in them. One box claiming to be "as issued" contains the seven titles shown at right. The first seven Baum books (Wizard through Patchwork) do not seem to fit.

In the "comments" on the "Offspring" blog a reader named Len mentions having received his set in 1965 or 1966.

I had never seen any publicity suggesting how these sets were sold. Was there a mail-in campaign? I mainly remember the Weekly Reader as a small newsletter given out to kids when I was in First Grade. But, no matter, a few days ago I acquired a lovely piece of vintage "white edition" publicity created by Weekly Reader!

It is a large 2-sided poster, or rather, brochure, measuring 22" x 17." It is printed in full color. I've shared fairly large images so that when you click on an image you can probably read almost all of the type. Here's the front side.

Weekly Reader Oz book poster - Click to enlarge.

The promotion is offering a free copy of The Wizard of Oz if one agrees to "examine" the later volumes. Obviously Weekly Reader is hoping the parents will buy the lucky child the full set. The text on the brochure is quite well-written. I was especially pleased to see they used male pronouns, as in:
When you give your child this wonderful Oz book, exciting things happen. Almost like magic, he is whisked to the fascinating, enchanting world of Oz. Here he meets little Dorothy Gale . . .

The early 1960s family is rather engaging in a retro sort of way.

The text on this side goes on to mention the 1939 Judy Garland film, "Millions thrilled to the antics of Judy Garland and Ray Bolger," and the book has a lengthy quote from Baum discussing what age his Oz stories are written for.

The other side of the brochure is equally attractive as the first.

Weekly Reader Oz book poster - Click to enlarge.
We get a spread from Wizard, showing the book at actual size, the covers of eight of the later Oz titles, and a long excerpt of Edward Wagenknecht's afterword.

In the lower left corner, in the box with the ordering information, there is am item entitled: "Calling all children: an Interview with the Wizard himself." This is pulled from the 1965 issue of The Ozmapolitan. You can read that issue by clicking here. The article is the one on the first page with the Japanese characters.

This brochure may well have been part of a more elaborate mailing. The instructions for ordering say to: "Just slip your FREE BOOK TOKEN into the 'Yes' slot in your Free Gift Certificate and this book is yours." Anyone out there want to send me a book token and certificate so I can complete my set?

The ordering info explains that you will receive Wizard for free, to be followed by volumes 2 and 3 at approximately four week intervals, sent on approval. Once you've accepted those two volumes along with your free copy of Wizard, Weekly Reader mails you the remaining eleven titles all at once but with the option of paying for them monthly, one at a time. The Weekly Reader price for the Oz books is $3.29 per title. Reilly & Lee was charging $3.95 each when the books were first released.

There is no date on this elaborate bit of publicity. There is also no mention of the fine boxed set I showed at the top of this post. Perhaps the box was offered at a later point in time, but the "comment" from Len that I referenced above suggests that he got his boxed set in 1965-'66. Does this imply that the boxed set came first and this "book club" deal was offered later? There are still some mysteries to solve in "White Edition Wednesday!"

Well, now that this blog series is complete, there is only one thing for you to do - go back to the very first post and reread all eighteen "white edition" blogs from the beginning! Have fun!


Mark R Hunter said...

I was born in 62, and my parents got the books through the subscription method. There are crayon marks on my white edition of "Wizard", so I assume I wasn't yet old enough to appreciate the books! I'll have to ask them whether they remember anything more about ordering the books, or exactly when they got them.

David Maxine said...

Thanks, Mark - I'd love to hear anything specific your parents remember about buying you your Oz books!

James said...

I had the softcover versions that Rand McNally put out in the late 70s, my first exposure to Baum's sequels to The Wizard of Oz, - the Land of Oz, Road, Patchwork Girl, Scarecrow, and Magic. The cover designs were pretty identical.

Mark R Hunter said...

We'll see if my parents remember it at all!