Please Buy This Book is the first comprehensive guide to Gift Books for Good Causes – books in which the contributors gave their work for free and from which all the profits went to charity.
It seems incredible now but, back in the 19th and 20th centuries, a charity could raise money through selling a book – almost always a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book in which the beautiful pictures were accompanied by written contributions from the famous. Not only were all contributions supplied free, but paper and print was supplied at cost. All profits went to charity.
In many homes, these lovely books were the most beautiful in the house. Normally, a book with full-page pictures from famous artists, short stories by famous writers, specially commissioned poems and pages of sheet music, ‘private’ photographs (of the famous again), autographs and scraps of facsimile handwriting would be beyond an ordinary person’s means. But not these. They weren’t cheap, but they were affordable. So the books sold in large numbers (usually) and, in consequence, can still be found in second-hand bookshops – at affordable prices again. They make a great collection for anyone with a passion for books today.
Gift Books, and the causes for which the funds were raised, reflected their time. The charities people care about in peacetime are not the same as those in wartime, and throughout the whole of the period of this study, running from the 1880s to 1945, there was no National Health Service, no Welfare State – little help, in fact, of any kind from the state. Hence the need for charities. We in the 21st century should not be complacent – not when we rely on charitable donations to fund research into disease and major illnesses, or to provide shelter for the homeless, or to feed the hungry.
The Gift Books you will find in this detailed study include those devised to raise funds for well-known hospitals, for Boer War reservists and war-time charities (both world wars), as well as other causes. Gift Books in Edwardian years and the First World War were more lavish than those produced in the Second, but nearly all contain fine pictures and are packed with submissions by the famous and fine writers. Each book is of its time.
To take a peek at how the Royal Family got involved: click H E R E