Why Should Atlantic Readers Form Their Own Book Club?

Atlantic readers read with discrimination. They have ready access to the best sellers in bookshops, in the lending libraries, and in the large book clubs, but they are not always impressed by books of mass appeal. They buy books to satisfy their own discerning tastes.

With publishing costs at an all-time high, books of distinction — books for the discriminating rather than the average reader — are becoming more and more of a gamble for the publisher. The potential sale is obviously limited. There is an increasing danger that important books will become less and less accessible. The answer is not to publish them at high prices, for the higher the price, the fewer are those who can afford them.

A logical remedy is for readers of discrimination to band together and to pool their buying. This will assure publishers of a definite market for books of distinctive content. And it will enable Atlantic readers and their friends to purchase books of Atlantic calibre at savings of at least twenty-five per cent. The ATLANTIC MONTHLY BOOK CLUB is being formed to serve this end.

Associated with me in choosing books for The ATLANTIC MONTHLY BOOK CLUB will be Charles W. Morton and Charles Rolo. We will exercise the same care and judgment in making the Club’s selections as we use in editing The Atlantic. We shall feel free to call on any publisher for a book we want.

I think we are fortunate to be able to offer as the Club’s first selection James Norman Hall’s heart-warming autobiography, My Island Home, excerpts of which are now appearing in The Atlantic. Jim Hall was an Atlantic discovery; James Michener called him “the most universally loved American ever to have lived in Tahiti.” Hall was intimately associated with the magazine, and I think it is fitting that we should launch The ATLANTIC MONTHLY BOOK CLUB with his life story. He has written the modest, sincere, deeply felt autobiography of an American who was brought up in very humble circumstances in a small town in Iowa, who fell in love with literature at an early age, and who made up his mind while still working his way through college that he would travel to the far ends of the earth in search of an island solitude.

Hall’s autobiography is our October choice, and Evelyn Waugh’s new novel, Men at Arms, will be our selection for November. Each month, as described on the opposite page, there will be alternate selections by authors such as Catherine Drinker Bowen, Walter D. Edmonds, Samuel Eliot Morison, and Agnes Newton Keith.

I believe in this venture and I hope it will appeal to you.

Editor of the Atlantic