World Publishing Company
|Parent company||Times Mirror Company (1962–1974)|
Collins Publishers (1974–1980)
|Predecessor||Commercial Bookbinding Co.|
|Founder||Alfred H. Cahen|
|Country of origin||United States|
New York City
|Key people||Ben Zevin, William Targ|
|Nonfiction topics||Reference, Religion, Politics, Sports, Philosophy|
|Fiction genres||Mystery, Popular fiction|
The World Publishing Company was an American publishing company founded by Alfred H. Cahen. Originally headquartered in Cleveland, the company later added an office in New York City. The company published genre fiction, trade paperbacks, children's literature, nonfiction books, textbooks, Bibles, and dictionaries, primarily from 1940 to 1980. Authors published by World Publishing Company include Ruth Nanda Anshen, Michael Crichton, Simone de Beauvoir, Robert Ludlum, Sam Moskowitz, Ayn Rand, Rex Stout, Gay Talese, and Lin Yutang. The company's Cleveland headquarters were located in the Caxton Building.
World Publishing was notable for publishing the first edition of Webster's New World Dictionary in 1951, which contained 142,000 entries, said to be the largest American desk dictionary available at the time. The company also had a vibrant children's book division, and published the first edition of Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar in 1969.
Polish immigrant Alfred H. Cahen founded the Commercial Bookbinding Co. in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1902, expanding and adding a printing plant by 1912. In 1928 Cahen bought out his largest competitor, New York's World Syndicate Publishing Co., officially taking on the name World Publishing Co. in 1935. (At that point, the company added an office in New York City.)
At the time the largest publisher of the King James Bible, in 1940 Cahen's son-in-law, Ben Zevin, expanded the company's output by publishing inexpensive editions of classic literature, which were sold in variety stores and drugstores as well as bookstores. Under Zevin's leadership, in 1940 World Publishing introduced the hugely popular Tower Books imprint: a 49-cent line of hardcovers which featured such authors as mystery writer Rex Stout. (This "Tower Books" was not related to the Tower Publications imprint that operated from 1958–1981.) From 1942 to 1964 William Targ worked as an editor for World Publishing, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. As time passed, World Publishing expanded its repertoire to all types of fiction, nonfiction, sports, the classics, and philosophy.
The Times Mirror Company acquired World Publishing in 1962. By this time, World Publishing was producing 12 million books a year, one of only three American publishers to produce that much volume. In 1974, the Times Mirror Co. sold World Publishing to the U.K.-based Collins Publishers, with the trade publishing remaining with Times Mirror's New American Library subsidiary. In 1980 Collins broke up World Publishing, selling its children's line to the Putnam Publishing Group, the dictionary line to Simon and Schuster, and otherwise ridding itself of World's assets.
- "WORLD PUBLISHING CO.", The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Accessed Mar. 3, 2017.
- "Caxton Building," Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Accessed Mar. 2, 2017.
- McIntyre, By Michael K."With publication of Webster's 'College 5' dictionary, the book that defined Cleveland editors' work is closed: Michael K. McIntyre's Tipoff," Cleveland Plain Dealer (October 17, 2014).
- Silvey, Anita. 100 Best Books for Children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004) ISBN 978-0-618-27889-3.
- UPI. "Ben Zevin Dies at 88; Leader Of World Publishing Company," New York Times (December 29, 1984).
- "William Targ, 'Godfather' Editor, Dies at 92". New York Times. 1999-07-25. Retrieved 2008-08-18.