Part One: The Beginning (1962-1971)

Over one million children joined The Happy Hollisters Book Club between 1962 and 1971—were you one of them? Joining was easy: you (or your parents) simply sent a dime (yes, one thin dime!) to become a member. In exchange, you received a copy of The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery, sold in bookstores for a whopping $1.95. The initial volume was yours to keep, even if you canceled your membership immediately. If you didn’t cancel, you continued to experience the joy of reading The Happy Hollisters, receiving one new volume each month for the low cost of $1.00 (plus shipping and handling)—what a swell deal that was!

The Happy Hollisters Book Club was started in March of 1962, by an agreement between publishing powerhouse Nelson Doubleday, Inc., and The Stratemeyer Syndicate, the packager and rights-holder of The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West. At that time, there were 19 books in the series, all written by author and Syndicate partner Andrew Svenson. The Haunted House Mystery was in production at the time of the initial club offering, and both parties agreed that it would be the most logical “first” shipment, although it was officially #21 in the series.

The club was a huge success! More Happy Hollisters books were sold through the book club than through retail stores—nearly 10 million copies were distributed to club members. This explains why used copies are most often Book Club editions, and The Haunted House Mystery remains one of the easiest copies to find “used,” as so many children received it as their introductory club volume.

Kids loved The Happy Hollisters; they stayed up late reading by flashlight, bonded with their favorite characters, and wrote letters to the author by the thousands. Teachers and librarians loved that the action-packed mysteries encouraged kids to turn the page and keep reading. Parents loved the price; ten cents plus a dollar per month was a small price to pay to turn young readers into lifelong readers.

Kids today still love The Happy Hollisters, and we are excited to announce that The Happy Hollisters Book Club is now being brought back to life! A Happy Hollisters Book Club membership makes a great birthday or holiday gift for the young reader in your life. Watch this space for additional information about the original Happy Hollisters Book Club—and more details about the newly relaunched club!

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  1. Life was not easy in inner city St. Louis in the 60s. My father was an abusive weekend alcoholic. In 1967 my sister bought two of the Hollister books (The Happy Hollisters, and the Haunted House Mystery) for my 7th birthday through the Book Club . I bought 29 of the 33 books during the next year. One book at a time from moneys I earned for odd jobs. I would read them in one sitting. They allowed me to escape from the world for a few hours. The Hollisters were my family and gave me hope. I developed a love of reading and a love of solving mysteries. This lead me to love math and science. I now hold three engineering degrees. I eventually collected the remaining four missing books and am re-reading the entire set. What memories! I had forgotten Pam’s dog’s name and was shocked when I realized it was the same as the family nickname I have had since I was 12 years old ; Zip. I rarely answer to my legal name. I was never sure how the nickname came about but I now have a clue. Anyway I now serve as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for six universities, 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges in a state system. I’ve always been driven to try to help those kids similar to me; to help them transform their lives. I am not sharing this to tell you my story but to share my deep gratitude to Andrew Svenson. His stories gave me a family and pointed me in the right direction to escape a much different and horrendous life that might have been my fate.

    The stories may be from a simpler time but the moral guide presented are as important today if not more so than when first written. I’m buying a full set for my grandson and encourage all to do the same for that youngster in your life who would enjoy joining the Happy Hollisters in solving that next mystery.

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