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Charles Boni (1894-1969) was the younger brother of Albert Boni; the biographies of these two door-singers are closely entwined. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Charles attended Harvard College. While still in school, he co-founded with his brother the Washington Square Bookshop in 1913. The bookshop was just next door to the Liberal Club, and became a center for Bohemian activities in the Village; among other things, the shop published Alred Kreymborg’s little magazine The Glebe. In 1915, Charles graduated from college and the brothers sold the shop to Frank Shay in order to go into publishing full time. With his brother and partner Harry Scherman, Charles helped start the Little Leather Library, a publishing venture that succeeded in targeting a market for series of classic works of literature, and was the predecessor to the Book-of-the-Month Club. In 1923, he joined his brother to found the publishing house of Albert & Charles Boni, which published many major modernist writers and remained in business until 1939. In 1928 the brothers undertook an experiment called Charles Boni Paper Books, a paperback book club by mail subscription. Unfortunately, the stock market crash in 1929 hindered their effort, and the experiment failed after just a few years. Later in life, Charles Boni started an art exhibition company, began another pubishing company, Boni & Gaer, and in his retirement became interested in developing ways to use new computer technology in medical applications.
The cover and opening pages of Frank Harris's My Reminiscences as a Cowboy (New York: Charles Boni Paper Books, 1930)
This volume reveals the aesthetic of the Charles Boni Paper Books series, which had an elegant look and feel and were often illustrated by major graphic artists.