The Two Dell "Told in Pictures" Books














Among the most valuable Dell vintage paperbacks were the two volumes that made up the entire run of "Told in Picture" books. They were, in fact, simply comic books in digest format. The first was a "gripping love story" that lists no author. The second is a re-telling of a previously printed Dell book. (Dell #5 was actually the first "Mapback" -- see another "Oddity" for more discussion.)

There are two questions about these books that really define them.

1) Were they really books?

2) Were there really only two?


The first question may seem rather trivial to you ... until you come to realize that Dell Publishing was just a little sloppy with their terminology. Dell had a whole slew of colophons that matched their wide range of published labels, including Dell, Dell 1st Edition, the "D" series, Dell Laurel, and others (see the "Colophons" section of the BookScans database).


And yet, only their magazines had a square colophon ... with the exception of these two publications. In the TIP books, the "Dell" square was surrounded by other little "Dells."


Also, Dell's magazines were often digest-sized publications. The TIPs were the only digest-sized "books."



And even when a publication was clearly a magazine, they sometimes had a habit of calling it a "book," like the MLB annual for 1947.


The MLB annual for other years, bore a "magazine" colophon.


I am contacted by people all the time who swear that they've found a new Dell book that has been missed by all the Price Guide authors. My first question to them is: Is it a digest? It always is. And it has therefore been categorized by all the reference books as one of the Dell magazines.


And so, I offer the hypothesis that the two TIPs were not really "books" at all, but rather a trial test market for comics printed in one of Dell's standard magazine formats. William H. Lyles, the Dell bibliographer, sort of bears this out in his book, Putting Dell on the Map by discussing the books in his section about Dell magazines.


He also writes very briefly about the "other two" Told in Pictures books, which are mentioned on both back covers (click any image on the left to see the full-sized scan). The digest-sized comics were a dismal failure, he says. They wouldn't fit on the comics racks OR the book racks in stores, and so had to be stacked with all the other magazines, where most lay unsold for a long time and were finally thrown away (something that boosted their value to collectors immensely).


While the other two titles had obviously moved beyond the initial planning stage, Rich Girl, Poor Girl and I Met a Handsome Cowboy were never printed ... at least in this format. According to Lyles, there was also an Alfred Hitchcock TIP in the works.