How Books Designed for Soldiersā Pockets Changed Publishing Forever - Atlas Obscura
In early June, 1944, tens of thousands of American troops prepared to storm the beaches of Normandy, France. As they lined up to board the invasion barges, each was issued something less practical than a weapon, but equally precious: a slim, postcard-sized, softcover book.
These were Armed Services Editions, or ASEsāpaperbacks specifically designed to fit in a soldierās pockets and travel with them wherever they went. Between 1943 and 1947, the United States military sent 123 million copies of over 1,000 titles to troops serving overseas. These books improved soldiersā lives, offering them entertainment and comfort during long deployments. By the time the war ended, theyād also transformed the publishing industry, turning the cheap, lowly paperback into an all-American symbol of democracy and practicality.