Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Americanization of Edward Bok - Winner, Biography, 1921

The Americanization of Edward Bok
By: Edward Bok
Scribner, 1920

If you have ever had to skip to the back of a magazine to finish reading an article...If you have ever enjoyed the floor plans for homes printed in Southern Living and other magazines...If you have ever looked at pictures of the interiors of homes in magazines in hopes of keeping your home up to date and fashionable...If you have ever read The Ladies Home Journal, you have experienced the creations of Edward Bok.

The Americanization of Edward Bok is a fascinating autobiography of a man who truly lived the "American Dream." His family moved from the Netherlands to the United States when he was a young child and he tells us his story of taking every available opportunity to become as "Americanized" as possible. I enjoyed this book so much that I am very tempted to give every detail of Edward Bok's life right here, but I will refrain. I do, though, recommend this book. It is well written and a very interesting read.

In my opinion, Edward Bok is one of the most important Americans that no one has heard of (at least I hadn't). He revolutionized the publishing business, especially regarding magazines. The Ladies Home Journal existed before Edward Bok, but it had a minute following. When he retired, the magazine reached circulation numbers of close to 2 million per year.

The thing that most fascinated me about Edward Bok was that he truly changed America in some very interesting ways. For example, he saw that many of the homes that the average person lived in were an eyesore - inside and out. He began by making a deal with an architect for the architect to draw up basic, functional house plans that Bok would in turn print in his magazine. This idea was such a hit that neighborhoods began popping up all over the country, and they were appropriately referred to as Ladies Home Journal neighborhoods. Next, Bok began printing landscaping plans in the magazine. Again, the idea took off. He single-handedly changed the face of America neighborhoods. Once the outside of the homes were dealt with, Bok moved to the inside, printing pictures of the interiors of stylish women's homes and even putting together mass produced portfolios of artwork that could be purchased and framed. As I was reading I felt chills as I realized that this was the beginning of the kinds of magazines I read today. I even (thanks to my mother-in-law) have my own subscription to Ladies Home Journal.

No comments: