Moritz Perles was born on 15 December 1844 in Prague and was married to Agnes, née Schiller. The couple had four children, Oskar, Ernst, Robert and Elsa Perles. After training as a bookseller in Prague, Mannheim and Vienna, he opened a bookstore on 15 March 1869 at Steindlgasse 2 in Vienna's 1st district, concentrating on publishing company, standard and commission business. Specializing in periodicals, address books, magazines and calendars, Perles developed the company into a major knowledge publisher, which from 1888 published the reputed Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift. Apart from his sons Oskar and Ernst Perles, his brother-in-law Friedrich Schiller also worked in the company from 1874. Oskar Perles, who also trained as a bookseller, became a partner in 1899 and Friedrich Schiller in 1905. After Moritz Perles's death on 25 February 1917, the two sons took over equal holdings in the company. Schiller also participated in the company as a silent partner from 1933.
The Perles family was Jewish and was therefore persecuted by the Nazis after the annexation of Austria. Apart from the company, located in 1938 at Seilergasse 4, the family also owned property in Vienna, which was expropriated from them. In September 1938 the Vermögensverkehrsstelle (VVSt) (Property Transaction Office) appointed Arthur Pribyslavsky as temporary administrator of the company. On 30 September 1938, the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Literature Chamber) in Berlin decided to liquidate the company, and it was closed by the Gestapo in October 1938. In view of the company's assets and its location, there were several applications for Aryanization, including Arthur Pribyslavsky and Johannes Katzler. The VVSt initially ordered its liquidation in December 1938. Pribyslavsky ceased to function as temporary administrator in February 1939 and was replaced by the owner of Ostmarkverlag Gottfried Linsmayer, who liquidated the company. The building and the Perles business at Seilergasse 4 were acquired with the approval of the VVSt by Deutsche Werkstätten AG on condition that it sold the stocks to a bookseller, since the company itself did not have a licence to sell books. While the publishing rights were left alone for the time being, Johannes Katzler managed through the Deutsche Werkstätten AG's lawyer to gain possession of the inventory and to take over Perles's clientele, which the company had built up over the decades. After the VVSt gave him permission on 26 June 1939 to Aryanize the warehouse, Katzler transferred the books to the bookstore belonging to Alois Reichmann, which had been Aryanized by him. The stock was combined with that of the booksellers Richard Lány, Josef Kende, Max Breitenstein, Heinrich Saar and Carl Wilhelm Stern, which he had also Aryanized. He integrated the company's publishing rights into his Gesamtverband Deutscher antikommunistischer Vereinigungen (Anti-Komintern). The remaining assets were liquidated by July 1940 by Treuhandgesellschaft Donau and the company was deleted from the register of companies in July 1942. Oskar Perles died in 1942 in Izbica (Poland). Robert Perles was deported to Theresienstadt and from there to Lublin concentration camp on 17 May 1942, where he was murdered. Ernst Perles died on 3 March 1942 in Vienna. Elsa Perles fled to Switzerland, and Friedrich Schiller managed to escape to the USA.
After the Vienna Volksgericht had sentenced Johannes Katzler to eighteen months' imprisonment and ordered his assets to be forfeited to the Republic of Austria, Moritz Perles's daughter Elsa, married name Pollak, and the legal successors of Oskar and Robert Perles and of Friedrich Schiller submitted a claim to the Finanzlandesdirektion (FLD) für Wien, Niederösterreich und das Burgenland (Regional Tax Office for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland) for restitution of the company and properties under the Second Restitution Act. The FLD decision of 1951 called for the restitution of a small number of books, a single lump-sum settlement, a cash payment from the proceeds from the sale of the inventory of the former Perles company, to the exclusion of all further restitution claims against the Republic of Austria. The publishing rights to the Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift Aryanized in May 1938 by the brothers Emil and Richard Hollinek were not included in the restitution settlement. After the Austrian Germanist Murray G. Hall documented this case, the Hollinek family accused Hall of libel. The case ended with a settlement and the maintenance of Hall's documentation. Today a plaque on the building at Seilerstätte 4 recalls Moritz Perles's company.