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J.S. Ogilvie Publisher

J.S. Ogilvie was one of the publishers of dime novels in the late 1800s, publishing short books and some novels, printed cheaply, and available at low prices.

This was before Pocket Books and paperbacks, but these were effectively paperbacks, just a lot shorter.

From the Cambridge Tribune, No. 42, 14 December 1907

J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Co.

No publishing house In the country outdoes J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Company, of New York, In Its output of paper covered books at very low prices, thus bringing within the reach of the people at large many books…


It will be impossible, within ordinary limits, to give Ogilvie’s complete list of titles, but some may be quoted as showing the varied character of the publications of this well known house. … The great success of the J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Company and the unique position that it holds In the publishing trade of the country are due directly to the genius, the business sagacity and foresight of Mr. J. S. Ogilvie. the founder of the house, who has long been a leading citizen of what Is now the borough of Brooklyn In New York.

His biography is a real “Horatio Alger” story, and, eventually, he would publish some Horatio Alger novels.

[he] entered the’ ship yard of William H. Webb, foot of Sixth Street, New York, to learn the trade of ship Joiner, at the age of seventeen. It was here that he determined to excel, if possible, in everything that was given him to do, and while serving as the youngest apprentice he was often subjected to the sport and ridicule of his fellow apprentices, who styled him “The Professor,” for always spending his noon hour and any other spare time in solving the mysteries of algebra and geometry.

He was educated only until age 10, then went to work, and advanced in different job, eventually getting into college.  He graduated college and got a teaching job.

After working in the ship yard all day, he attended Cooper Institute In the evenings for four years, and graduated with such credit that, while still working at his trade as a mechanic, he secured a position as teacher in one of the evening schools of New York City. He feels today under obligations to Henry L. Slote, who was impressed with his determination to advance himself and used his efforts to obtain him his first appointments.

He eventually got an opportunity to work for the National Temperance Society, running their publishing operation. It was the house organ of the Temperance movement, which sought to make alcohol illegal. Founded in 1965, it was one of the largest publishing concerns in the country.  This biography didn’t explain this, but, an explanation probably wasn’t necessary in 1907.

He continued to work at his trade during the day time and teach school In the evening until- he was twenty-five years of age, when an Opportunity occurred to obtain a situation with the National Temperance Society and Publishing House, which he accepted, and thus began his experience in the book business…

And, finally, he started business.

Circumstances arose by which his connection with this house was severed, … finally decided to go into business on his own account, and accordingly hired a corner about ten by twelve feet In the fourth loft of 29 Rose street. It was from that beginning that the extensive publishing business owned and conducted by J. S. Ogilvie was built up. His present establishment is at 57 Rose street, New York.”

I tried to find 57 Rose St. and don’t remember what I found. There were two locations that were relevant. One was a warehouse at the end of the Brooklyn Bridge.  It’s appears to have been wiped out – or maybe it’s one of the spaces beneath the bridge. The other was a Rose St. in Brooklyn.

Links to some of the JS Ogilvie books.

Some digitized JS Ogilvie books.

More links to the same books, more or less.

A page about cheap books, including a quote by Ogilvie.

The following ad must have come from one of the books. The ad was given away as a “freebie” to a customer who purchased a related document.

I’m starting to think this is from the early 1900s. Initially, I had thought it was from the 1920s, but I’m not finding anything from JS Ogilvie that late.



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Somewhat related is another paperbacks publisher Lillian Smith and The Paper Editions Book Club, 1955, and people who like books.

1 thought on “J.S. Ogilvie Publisher

  1. […] it. It turns out he’s a blogger with a fantastic archive of similar material! I had found a similar ad in the Taro Kawakami hoard, and added it to the order, as a freebie.  Here’s the […]

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