Powder River: Let 'er Buck
By Struthers Burt.
Lovejoy Library has two copies of Powder River: Let 'er Buck by Struthers Burt.
One copy is the 1938 first printing of the first edition. The preliminary pages include a dedication leaf. The pages of the main part of the book are numbered to xi and then to 389. An essay by Constance Lindsay Skinner titled "Rivers and American Folk" is included on fourteen unnumbered pages at the end of the book. The thickness of the book (excluding the cover boards) measures about 4 cm thick.
The other copy is the fifth printing of the first edition, from January 1944. There are some differences from the first printing. The pages still number to xi and then to 389. But the dedication leaf is gone, and Skinner's essay is missing from the back of the book (even though it is still listed in the table of contents). The biggest change is that this book is only about 3 cm thick. The height, width, and typefaces of the two printings are the same -- the content is identical page for page (except for the missing dedication and essay).
How did this book manage to get 25% shorter by only cutting 3% of its content?
The riddle's answer is found at the top of the copyright page for the 1944 printing, which states:
"War Edition, complete text—reduced size in accordance with paper conservation orders of the War Production Board."
The War Production Board was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January of 1942. It rationed the nonessential use of resources needed in war production, including paper. In 1944, the Board restricted the book trade to 75% of the paper weight that was used in 1942. Rather than decreasing the number of books they produced (and sold), publishers turned to lighter paper, resulting in slimmer volumes.
-- Written by Mary Rose
Brandt, Joseph A. "War and the Book Trade." In Books and Libraries in Wartime, edited by Pierce Butler, 88-104. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945.
Burt, Struthers. Powder River: Let 'er Buck. Illustrated by Ross Santee. Rivers of America. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1938.
Burt, Struthers. Powder River: Let 'er Buck. Illustrated by Ross Santee. Rivers of America. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1944.
Fitzgerald, Carol. The Rivers of America: A Descriptive Bibliography. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2001.