The WORLD PUBLISHING CO., a major publisher of Bibles, dictionaries, and children's and trade books, was begun in 1902 by Alfred H. Cahen, a Polish immigrant. Practicing his trade as a bookbinder, by 1905 Cahen had opened the Commercial Bookbinding Co. in the CAXTON BLDG., and by 1912 he added a printing plant. When the bookbinding and printing facilities, located near the Caxton Bldg. office, were destroyed by fire in 1920, Cahen rebuilt and expanded the plant at W. 110th St. and Western Ave. In 1928 Commercial bought out its largest competitor, the World Syndicate Publishing Co. of New York, and assumed the name World Publishing Co. in 1935. When Cahen's son-in-law, BEN ZEVIN, joined the firm in 1934, he expanded the firm's publishing activities by making inexpensive editions of good literature for sale in drugstores and dime stores as well as in existing bookstores. In 1940 Zevin introduced Tower Books, a series of 49-cent fiction and nonfiction hardcover titles that sold a million copies the first year. He also recruited a staff of researchers to develop Webster's New World Dictionary. Introduced in 1953, it went through 58 printings and 12 revisions, making the company the 2nd-largest publisher of desk dictionaries in the world. Meanwhile, the firm remained the largest printer of Bibles in the country and was a growing publisher of textbooks.

In 1963 World was 1 of 3 publishers to do their own printing and produced 12 million books in an efficient new plant at 26320 Miles Rd. in BEDFORD HTS. Times-Mirror Inc., a newspaper, communications, and graphic arts firm, acquired World in the 1960s and moved its editorial offices to New York. Unable to operate the company profitably, Times-Mirror contracted out its book manufacturing business and sold the local plant to the Bookwalter Co., an affiliate of the Printing Corp. of America, in 1971. It then sold World Publishing itself to Collins Publishing of Great Britain in 1974. In 1980 inflation caused Collins-World Publishing to sell its dictionary line to Simon and Schuster, the children's titles to the Putnam Publishing Group, and the Bible Division to Riverside Book & Bible House of Iowa Falls, IA.

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the World Publishing Company Records, WRHS.


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