contentThis publication was started in 1873, dreamed up by Frederick Leypoldt, editor of the recently formed (1872) Publishers Weekly. The LUCILE Project has the story. The idea was quite straightforward: all publishers would send PTLA the requisite number of copies of their catalogs, and these would be bound up in one volume for the convenience of the trade. Apparently by 1900 or so the publication had swollen to about a foot thick. The correspondence about this publication at the SHARP listserv tells us that the Hathi Trust has been unable to scan many of the volumes because they were more than 5 inches thick — quite a lot of room for trouble between 5 and 12 inches. Google Books did manage to scan at least one volume, 1917, which you can see here. If you scroll down past the Henry Altemus Company’s catalog, you’ll get to the contents list — there’s an amazing number of publishers who sent in their lists.

In 1948 PTLA became the basis for Bowker’s Books in Print, although apparently the earlier publication went on being produced till 2001. I don’t remember anything of this sort going on in the New York publishing houses I was working in for the last quarter of the last century, but no doubt that just means I didn’t know about it, not that it wasn’t happening.