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April 18: First Crossword Puzzle Book

Lawrence Bush
April 18, 2010

Schuster and SimonThe first book of crossword puzzles ever published was released on this date in 1924. It was also the first book published by Simon & Schuster. Richard L. Simon, co-founder, was a pianist and piano salesman who married Andrea Louise Simon, a biracial civil rights activist and singer; their kids included singer Carly Simon. M. Lincoln Schuster, known as Max, was editor of an automobile magazine. Written by Margaret Petherbridge, the crossword puzzle book sold for $1.35 and came with a pencil attached. (Petherbridge went on to become the first crossword puzzle editor for the New York Times, from 1942 to 1968.) Simon & Schuster also invented the unsold returns policy, which revolutionized the bookstore industry, and teamed up with Pocket Books in 1939 to bring 25¢ softcover literature to the American market. In 1942, they launched Little Golden Books, which sold nearly five million in its first year.
“Don’t pass judgment on a manuscript as it is, but as it can be made to be.” — Max Schuster

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.