If you think about the books you read as a child, or have read to a child, Little Golden Books will pop into your head. These books were first published in 1942 and have become a staple on children's bookshelves. Little has changed with the books over the years, they still have the iconic gold spine, the brightly illustrated covers and educational and moral stories. Although they no longer sell for 25 cents - first edition copies easily go for over $100 - Little Golden Books are a sweet little piece of the literary pie.
Guy Duplaix, president of the Artist and Writers Guild, came up with the idea to produce inexpensive children's books that were durable. In September 1942, Duplaix worked with Simon & Schuster to publish the first 12 titles:
After only five months, the Little Golden Books were in their third printing with 1.5 million copies in print. The success rate was so high that George Duplaix took on another Little Golden Books division under Simon & Schuster called Sandpiper Press. Throughout the years, the Little Golden Books franchise worked together with various companies and introduced book and product joint packaging. An example of this is Doctor Dan, The Bandage Man, a book that was released with Johnson & Johnson Band-Aids glued to the title page. The first printing for this book was 1.75 million copies. In May, 1954, 2.25 million copies of Little Lulu and Her Magic Tricks were printed with a package of Kleenex tissues attached to the front cover.
Many well known authors and illustrators have worked on Little Golden Books. Among the most popular authors include Margaret Wise Brown - author of Good Night Moon, Richard Scarry and Tibor Gergely. Gergely was best known for his covers including The Little Red Caboose, Tootle, and Scuffy the Tugboat. According to Publishers Weekly, as of 2001, Tootle was the all-time third bestselling hardcover children's book in English behind the Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Poky Little Puppy, the leader.
As of 2002, over two billion Little Golden Books have been printed. Various formats of Little Golden Books have been created including, games, toys, videos, miniature books, and records. There is no denying the incredible impact these books have had on multitudes of people and their strong nostalgic appeal will ensure that they remain in print for years to come.