Boni, Albert, 1892-1981

Variant names

Hide Profile

Boni was born in 1892 in New York City; attended Harvard Univ.; in 1912, with his brother Charles, he established the Washington Square Book Shop, a gathering place for Bohemian intellectuals; about 1914 originated the idea of a very small format for abridged classics called "The Little Leather Library," which were sold through Woolworth's; sold the book shop in 1917 and joined Horace Liveright to form the Boni-Liveright Publishing Co., which introduced the "Modern Library of the World's Best Classics;" in 1923 he and his brother founded a firm which introduced "Boni Paper Books" and sold them by mail-order subscription; the firm also published such controversial and influential writers as Marcel Proust, Colette, D.H. Lawrence, and Upton Sinclair; the firm finally failed with the depression, and Boni later created the Readex Microprint Corp.; he died on July 13, 1981 in Ormond Beach, FL.

From the description of Collection of material about photography, ca. 1840-1983. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 40497915

Albert Boni was born on October 21, 1892, in New York City to Charles and Bertha ( née Saslavsky) Boni. Raised in Newark, New Jersey, Boni attended first Cornell University and then Harvard University. In 1917, he married Nell van Leeuwen and had one son, William.

In 1913, Boni began a career in the book trade when he and his younger brother Charles founded the Washington Square Book Shop, located at 137 MacDougal Street in New York City, which soon became popular with writers from the Greenwich Village bohemian community. In 1915, the Boni brothers partnered with Harry Scherman to launch the Little Leather Library, which offered reprints of classics; however, other commitments soon required the Bonis to sell their share. In 1917, Albert Boni co-founded the publishing firm of Boni and Liveright, where he helped launch the Modern Library. Though Boni's name remained a part of the publishing house until 1928, he left the firm in 1918 after reputedly losing a coin toss for control of the business to his partner Horace Liveright. In 1923, Boni entered into another publishing venture with his brother Charles, purchasing the small house of Lieber and Lewis to found Albert and Charles Boni. The firm went on to publish titles by William Carlos Williams, Ford Madox Ford, Thornton Wilder, Marcel Proust, and socialist writers such as Upton Sinclair and Max Eastman. In the late 1930s, the firm moved away from publishing original works of literature in favor of reprints and nonfiction before going out of business in 1939.

Also in 1939, Albert Boni founded the Readex Microprint Corporation. Boni conceived of his idea for microprint in 1934 when his friend, writer and editor Manuel Komroff, showed him his experiments with enlarging photographic images. Boni was struck by the notion that if one were to reduce rather than enlarge images, publishers and libraries might be able to access large amounts of information, but at a great savings in materials, cost, and space. Throughout the 1940s, Boni worked to develop microprint, a micro-opaque process in which pages were photographed using 35mm microfilm and printed on cards using offset lithography. The end product was a 6” x 9” card containing ten rows of ten pages each. These cards, each of which carried 100 pages of text, could then be viewed with a microprint reader. During this period Boni also published his first bibliography of photographic literature, A Guide to the Literature of Photography and Related Subjects (1943), as a quarterly supplement (no. 18) to the Photo-Lab Index .

Significant early Readex Microprint series included the British Sessional Papers, the United States Government Non-Depository Publications, Early American Imprints, 1639-1800, and The Collected Scientific & Technical Papers on Nuclear Science . In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Readex continued to develop its microprint techniques, licensing several advances developed by scientists at Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Boni also continued his bibliographic work on photography, editing Photographic Literature (1962) and its supplement, Photographic Literature, 1960-1970 (1972). Boni viewed his work with Readex Microprint and his bibliographic scholarship on photography as intimately connected, attributing his success in developing Microprint to his research on the literature of photography.

In 1974, William F. Boni succeeded his father as President of Readex Microprint Corporation. William sold Readex to Dan Jones of NewsBank in 1984, and in the late 1980s, Readex transitioned to producing works on microfiche. Today, Readex provides online digital resources as a division of NewsBank.

Albert Boni died July 31, 1981, at his home in Ormond Beach, Florida.

From the guide to the Albert Boni Readex Microprint Corporation Collection, 1932-1970 (bulk 1959-1969), (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center)

Biography

Boni was born in 1892 in New York City; attended Harvard University; in 1912, with his brother Charles, he established the Washington Square Book Shop, a gathering place for Bohemian intellectuals; about 1914 originated the idea of a very small format for abridged classics called “The Little Leather Library,” which were sold through Woolworth's; sold the book shop in 1917 and joined Horace Liveright to form the Boni-Liveright Publishing Company, which introduced the “Modern Library of the World's Best Classics”; in 1923 he and his brother founded a firm which introduced “Boni Paper Books” and sold them by mail-order subscription; the firm also published such controversial and influential writers as Marcel Proust, Colette, D.H. Lawrence, and Upton Sinclair; the firm finally failed with the depression, and Boni later created the Readex Microprint Corporation; he died on July 13, 1981 in Ormond Beach, Florida.

From the guide to the Albert Boni Collection of Material about Photography, ca. 1840-1983, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Dept. of Special Collections.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?. Autograph letters signed (2), typewritten letters signed (23), and telegrams (2) : Los Angeles, from Carey McWilliams to Albert Boni, publisher, 1929 Jan. 29-1932 Mar. 3. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Thornton Wilder collection of papers, 1926-1975, 1926-1967 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
referencedIn Albert & Charles Boni. Records, ca. 1916-1974. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Boni, Albert, 1892-1981. Collection of material about photography, ca. 1840-1983. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Boni, Albert, 1892-1981. Correspondence from Lewis Mumford, 1930. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Boni, Albert, 1892-1981. Correspondence to W. A. Swanberg, 1963. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Wilder, Thornton, 1897-1975. Thornton Wilder collection of papers, 1926-1975 bulk (1926-1967). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Albert Boni Collection of Material about Photography, ca. 1840-1983 University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
referencedIn Albert and Charles Boni, Inc. records, ca. 1916-1974 University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
referencedIn Harry Weinberger papers, 1915-1944 Yale University Library
referencedIn Horace Traubel and Anne Montgomerie Traubel Papers, 1824-1979, (bulk 1883-1947) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Traubel, Horace, 1858-1919. Horace and Anne Montgomerie Traubel papers, 1824-1979 (bulk 1883-1947). Library of Congress
creatorOf Boni & Liveright. Correspondence : with Theodore Dreiser, 1917-1938. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Sherry Mangan Papers, 1932-1936 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877. Photoglyphic engravings and other photomechanical prints presented to William Crookes [graphic] / William Henry Fox Talbot ; with 3 additional prints by Paul Pretsch and Adolphe-Pierre Riffaut and Pauline Riffaut. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Albert Boni Readex Microprint Corporation Collection, 1932-1970 (bulk 1959-1969) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Traubel, Horace, 1858-1919. Horace Traubel and Anne Montgomerie Traubel papers, 1824-1979 (bulk 1883-1947). Library of Congress
referencedIn Joseph Ishill correspondence, 1942-1966. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Albert & Charles Boni. corporateBody
associatedWith Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914? person
associatedWith Boni & Liveright. corporateBody
correspondedWith Ishill, Joseph. person
associatedWith Mangan, Sherry, 1904- person
associatedWith Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877. person
correspondedWith Traubel, Anne Montgomerie, 1864-1954 person
correspondedWith Traubel, Horace, 1858-1919. person
associatedWith Weinberger, Harry, 1888- person
associatedWith Wilder, Thornton, 1897-1975. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
North American Philips Co
Photography--Archival resources
Photography
Albert & Charles Boni
Publishers and publishing--United States
Readex Microprint Corporation
Publishers and publishing--Archival resources
Philips Natuurkundig Laboratorium
Occupation
Publishers and publishing--United States--Archival resources
Activity

Person

Birth 1892

Death 1981

Male

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6sf3v2t

Ark ID: w6sf3v2t

SNAC ID: 51423924