The Bobbs-Merrill Company was a book publisher located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bobbs-Merrill Company
Parent companySAMS Publishing (1959–1985)
Founded1850; 174 years ago (1850)
FounderSamuel Merrill
Defunct1985; 39 years ago (1985)
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationIndianapolis, Indiana

Company history


The Bobbs-Merrill Company began in 1850 October 3 when Samuel Merrill bought an Indianapolis bookstore and entered the publishing business. After his death in 1855, his son, Samuel Merrill, Jr. continued the business. Soon after the American Civil War (1861–1865) the business became Merrill, Meigs, and Company, and in 1883 the name changed again to the Bowen-Merrill Company. In 1903 the name became the Bobbs-Merrill Company, after long-time director, William Conrad Bobbs. From 1899 through 1909, the company published 16 novels whose sales placed each of them among the nation's top ten best-selling books of the year for one or more years.[citation needed]

The company was plaintiff in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U.S. 339 (1908), a case regarded[by whom?] as the origin of copyright's first-sale doctrine.[citation needed]

Bobbs-Merrill was known for publishing such authors as Keith Ayling, Erving Goffman, Richard Halliburton, David Markson, Walter Dean Myers, Ayn Rand, James Whitcomb Riley, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Irma S. Rombauer. [1] Of note, Irma S. Rombauer wrote The Joy of Cooking, Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote The Circular Staircase (1908) and Keith Ayling wrote The Story of Old Leatherneck of the Flying Tigers (1945). Bobbs-Merrill also published the early works of fantasy writer L. Frank Baum.

Bobbs-Merrill was responsible for a long period in its history for publishing the codified state laws of the State of Indiana and of other U.S. states.[1] The firm also published legal and school textbooks, children's books (including The Wizard of Oz and "27 titles in the Raggedy Ann series"),[2][3] and texts in the history of philosophy.

In 1944, Bobbs-Merrill commissioned artist Evelyn Copelman to illustrate a new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, reprinted as The Wizard of Oz and The New Wizard of Oz. Copelman's illustrations were more influenced by the 1939 Judy Garland MGM film version of the book than by W. W. Denslow's original 1900 illustrations, although the credits on the book stated otherwise. The year that Copelman's illustrations first appeared, 1949, was also the year of the film's first re-release.

In 1959, The Howard W. Sams Company purchased Bobbs-Merrill. When Sams was acquired by Macmillan in 1985, the Bobbs-Merrill name ceased being used, with the exception of continued sales of the Fifth Revision of The Joy of Cooking. This book continued to be a steady seller for Macmillan. There were also selected College Division titles, such as the Library of Liberal Arts.[4]

Book series

  • The American Lake
  • American Trails Series[5]
  • Bobbs-Merrill Reprint Series in the Social Sciences[6]
  • Childhood of Famous Americans Series[7][8][9][10][11][12]
  • Library of Liberal Arts[13]
  • Live Dolls (implied series)
  • Makers of American Tradition
  • Notable American Trials
  • Raggedy Ann

See also



  1. ^ a b Robert E. Johnson, "The Hoosier House", The Indianapolis Star, 2 February 1947, p. 89.
  2. ^ "Bobbs-Merrill firm will close", The Indianapolis News, 19 April 1985, p. 20.
  3. ^ Eric B. Schoch, "Venerable Bobb-Merrill firm to close", The Indianapolis Star, 19 April 1985, p. 49.
  4. ^ McDowell, Edwin (1985-04-24). "Two Publishers, Bobbs-Merrill and Dial, Being Dissolved". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  5. ^ se:American trails series (Bobbs-Merrill Company), Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  6. ^ se:Bobbs-Merrill reprint series in the social sciences, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  7. ^ Childhood of Famous Americans Series (Bobbs-Merrill) - Book Series List, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  8. ^ Childhood of Famous Americans Series, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  9. ^ Childhood of Famous Americans, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  10. ^ Alan Singer, Childhood of Some (In)Famous Americans, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  11. ^ Betsy Bird, Historical Kids: What the HECK is Going On With Nonfiction Bios These Days?, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  12. ^ Childhood of Famous Americans, Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  13. ^ se:Library of liberal arts, Retrieved 12 April 2023.



Bobbs-Merrill mss., 1885-1957. Lilly Library, Indiana University.

Further reading