The Development of English Local Government, 1689-1835

My favorite second hand bookstore in Seattle, the great Magus Books, had a small but sturdy bookshelf just across the registers. It had no label identifying the contents, and indeed the subjects were unpredictable. But the design was uniform: the small format hardcover. Usually around seven by four inches, the small hardcover was made to lie easily in the hand. 

Small books can be on any subject, but they tend to originate from a certain era. In an era of popular literacy just before paperback printing, the small hardcover was for everyone. The innovator of the format, Everyman’s Library, explicitly stated their goal was to put books into the hands of, if not everyone, at least anyone. The size could fit in a child’s hand or a student’s budget; the coat pocket of a worker’s or smoker’s jacket. 

Other notable printers of this format include Modern Library, Loeb Library, and here, in this appealing edition, Oxford’s Home University Library.

Oxford University Press, 1963