Page 81 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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The books initiated by Bloch’s are perhaps a better indication
of its abiding interest than are those which it merely accepted.
Among them are to be found a number of Jewish classics: for
The Suffering of the Jews during the Middle Ages
, by
Leopold Zunz, revised and edited with notes by George A. Kohut
(1907), and Gabirol’s
Mibhar Peninim
, by A. Cohen, originally
published in London (1925). A similar contribution of the firm
was its popular edition of the
Pirke Abot
, with an introduction
and notes by Joseph I. Gorfinkle (1913). On the juvenile level,
the Bloch firm went in heavily for text books in history and
Hebrew; indeed, about a third of the firm’s publications within
the past generation have been in the field of juveniles. The
strictly pietistic field was not neglected. It is, in a sense, curious
that a firm which had begun under Reform auspices eventually
became prominent in the publication of
and daily and
holiday prayer books.
In the mind of the general population, Bloch stands out more as
a book store than as a publisher. Its publications have averaged
recently about ten a year, while the variety and extent of its
sales have been much more impressive. In addition to its own
publications, Bloch’s became the American agent for a growing
number of foreign publishers of books of Jewish interest. Some-
times it republished these books for the American market (for
example, Hertz’s
Book of Jewish Thoughts
and more recently his
Authorized Daily Prayer Book);
more frequently, it served as
distributor. In much the same way, scholarly organizations in
the United States, lacking their own facilities for distribution, have
made Bloch their agent. It has come to enjoy the reputation of
having well-stocked shelves of Judaica and Hebraica. When in
doubt where a volume may be obtained, one turns to Bloch. In
this connection, one inevitably thinks of the informative Bloch
catalogues, but especially of its
Book Bulletin
, which made its
appearance in 1929 and still is published quarterly under the
skilful editorship of Solomon Kerstein, vice-president of the Bloch
Publishing Company. [Until 1953, he had as his associate in this
task Miss Anna Fisch, who had long served Bloch’s in an editorial
capacity.] The
Book Bulletin
represents an extraordinary mixture
of advertising and bibliographical information on books of Jewish
interest published anywhere in the world.
One other service the Bloch Publishing Company has performed
as a by-product of its more usual activities. Book shops and
publishers’ offices are by their very nature meeting places for the
literati. Bloch’s has been no exception. It has served two gene-
rations of book writers and book buyers in New York and out-
of-town visitors. The buyers especially have in it a place where