Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, a socialist reformer and newspaper publisher, and his wife,Marcet, set out to publish small low price paperback pocketbooks that were intended tosweep the ranks of the working class as well as the "educated" class. Their goal was toget works of literature, a wide range of ideas, common sense knowledge and variouspoints of view out to as large an audience as possible. These books, at approximately 31/2 by 5 inches (8 1/2 by 12 3/4 cm) easily fit into a working man's back pocket or shirtpocket. The inspiration for the series were cheap ten cent paperback editions of variousclassic works that Haldeman-Julius had purchased as a 15 year old (the
Ballad of ReadingGaol
being especially enthralling). He would later write:
“It was winter, and I was cold, but I sat down on a bench and read that booklet straight through, without a halt, and never did I so much as notice that my hands were blue, that my wet nose was numb, and that my ears felt as hard as glass. Never until then, or since,did any piece of printed matter move me more deeply...I'd been lifted out of this world -and by a 10¢ booklet. I thought, at the moment, how wonderful it would be if thousands of such booklets could be made available."