HYDE PARK BOOKS
The companies are listed here in chronological order so the reader can get a sense of the historical development of the genre. If you wish to read about a particular company, locate its name in the alphabetical index and click. (Major houses in bold).
Ace Books 1952
American Penquin 1939
Avon Books 1941
Bantam of Los Angeles 1939
Bart House 1944
Beacon Books 1954
Bonded Mysteries 1946
Hip Books 1946
Keep-Worthy Books 1945
Military Service 1944
Monarch Books 1958
New American Library (NAL) 1948
Phantom Mysteries 1942
Pocket Books 1938
Popular Library 1942
Pyramid Books 1949
Reader's Choice Library 1950
Royce Publications 1944
Traveler's Pocket Library 1949
Zenith Books 1958
While publishers of paper bound books were nearly non-existent in America, in Europe a significant development in publishing was occurring. Since 1845 a German publisher, Tachnitz, had been producing limited runs of paperbound books in several languages, including French and English. In 1931, a young German entrepreneur, Kurt Enoch, thinking he could bring the books to a larger market, established Albatross Books with offices in Hamburg, Paris, and London. He selected the name because "albatross" was a word common to most European languages.
He hired German artist Hans Mardersteig to design clean, crisp, pictureless paper covers for his books. Mardersteig went one step further and designed a matching paper jacket, thereby giving the books an classic elegance.
The covers were color coded to identify the contents:Blue: love stories
Gray: plays, poetry
Orange: short stories, humor
Purple: biographies, histories
Red: crime adventure
Yellow: novels, essays, misc.
Enoch thought a tall narrow book more dignified than a short fat one, and settled on a 7 1/8" x 4 1/4'! format.
The Albatross logo, a silhouette of the long narrow winged bird was soon seen in all the major European cities, and the English language editions were particularly popular,
Such was his success he was able to purchase Tauchnitz in 1934, thus giving his company an instant 100 year history.
Albatross books were gaining acceptance in England, and few managed to find their way into America, although there was no agency or distributor in this country. Unfortunately, Albatross was cut short just as it was blossoming. The Nazi government seized control and Kurt Enoch fled to America, where he would find greater fame after the war.
Albatross resumed publication after the war, but by that time the English and American markets were filling rapidly with paperback publishers.
The more valuable Albatross books are those published during the Kurt Enoch era, 1931-1939.
Allen Lane was the president-owner of The Bodley Head Punbushing house in England that had, in its heyday, introduced to the world the works of Oscar Wilde and Anatole France, but was now in serious decline. After spending an evening with Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan, he got stuck in a train station with nothing to read but trashy magazines and pulps. That, at least according to legend, is when he hit upon the idea of paperback books sold outside the normal book outlets.
Aware of the success Kurt Enoch was having with his limited press paperbacks, he devised a name, Penguin, a logo, cover design and color scheme imitative of Albatross Books, and made a presentation to the large chain discounter, F.W. Woolworth, with the hope the discounter, would purchase in sufficiently large qualities to allow Lane a small profit on his six penny books. Again according to legend, Woolworth's head buyer, Alvin Prescott, was about to reject the concept when his wife entered, saw the Penguin logo, and suggested it might look good on the bargain shelves.
Whether true or not, Prescott placed an order for the titles Allen Lane had ready to print. The first ten Penguins are, in order:#1. Ariel...Andre Maurois
#2. A Farewell to Arms.. Ernest Hemingway
#3. Poet's Pub.. Eric Linklater
#4. Madame Curie...Susan Ertz
#5. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.9.Dorothy Sayers
#6. Murder on the Links.. Agatha Christie
#7. Twenty-five.. Beverly Nichols
#8. Come to Earth...Mary Webb
#9. Carnival.. Compton MacKenzie
(#9 was later withdrawn due to copyright difficulties.)
#10. South Wind...Norman Douglas
Lane's critics ridiculed his title selections on the grounds it was too high-class, and paperbacks would be purchased only by the poor lower-class. "Either print sleezy novels or raise the quality and price of the book", they mocked.
But Lane had the last laugh. The Woolworth inventory sold out in two days, and within the year, Penguin Books were being sold in all discount department chains in England.
The appearance of the Penguin books imitated the Albatross books of Enoch in Germany, an indebtedness Lane never denied. (In later years, he would hire Enoch to run American Penguin.) The covers had no illustrations. A border of sharp, classical lines gave the books a dignified, intellectual appearance. (The lack of illustrations would prove a barrier to selling his books in America, a subject Lane was rather touchy about.)
The Penguin color scheme:orange: fiction
dark blue: biographies
Pelican Books, an imprint of Penguin, was for non-fiction titles.#1 was Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism by George Bernard Shaw.
SEE New American Library for imprints of American Penguin.
By the mid-thirties, the market for hardback reprints was saturated as every publisher tried to grab a piece of the success Grosset and Dunlap had experienced pioneering in the field. The cheap reprint giants, in addition to G&D; were Doubleday's Garden City, A.L. Burt, and Blue Ribbon, but there were also numerous smaller players that kept eroding the market shares of the big four. For the miniature hardback market, Modern Library at 95 cents per book was the best established of these more "high-brow" better quality reprint publishers, pursued by Scribner's Modern Student Library, Putnam's Ariel Books, Oxford's World Classics, Houghton-Mifflin Riverside, Dutton's Everyman Library, and Knopf's Borzoi Series. Sears & Roebuck sold their own Reader's Library reprints in 6 1/8" x 4 3/8" format in red cloth for 10 cents each as "lost leaders" to get people to place orders for other merchandise.
Robert Fair DeGraff was president of Blue Ribbon Books. To stand-out in such a clustered field, DeGraff was convinced he had to lower the price of his books to 25 cents. He named his experiment Triangle Books, an imprint of Blue Ribbon, but could reduce to price to no lower than 38 cents even when using the cheapest paper, ink and binding imaginable.
Publisher's Weekly issued an article ridiculing his idea of a 25 cent book and the primary witness was the president of the now defunct Modern Age Books. His breakdown of expenses per book looked like this:Printing............................7 cents
Discount to Dealer.........15 cents
TOTAL PER BOOK .....30cents
But DeGraff's experience with the Triangle Books experiment made 30 cents look too optimist. Obviously, to reach a profitable selling price of 25 cents he would have to abandon the hardback, stitched binding format.
He was familiar with Allen Lane's success in marketing outside the normal bookstore routes and thought such opportunities were even greater in America with its numerous chain drug stores. Anyway, he said in an interview many years later, he had to prove to himself what the experts claimed to knwo: that the market in America for paperbacks was simply not large enough to produce a profit margin.
Re-examining Modern Age's failure, he decided to make the following changes:
Whereas Modern Age had paid a 10% royalty, DeGraff was certain from his experience at Blue Ribbon that he could find publishers and authors willing to settle for 4%.
Modern Age had offered the standard 40-50% discount to dealers. DeGraff would offer at most 30%.
He could reduce printing costs three ways: by having a press run ten times that of Modern Age, by gluing the pages instead of stitching them, and by reducing the size from 7x4.25" to 6.5x4.25", that is, a "pocket-sized book".
With his plans detailed, he went in search of financial backing.
His first stop was rival Grosset and Dunlap. The firm was impressed by his plans but founder Alexander Grosset had died only a few years earlier and his son, Donald, was struggling to keep his company in the family. G&D; was not able at that time to invest money in DeGraff's ideas.
His next stop was at Simon and Schuster. A younger publishing house, it had begun as a maker of crossword puzzles and then hit pay dirt when it reprinted Little Blue Books' Series of philosophy essays by Will Durant under the title of The Story of Philosophy. Co-owner M. Lincoln Schuster had also been eyeing Allen Lane's success in England and had even gone so far as to consider starting a paperback line to be called "The Twentieth Century Library" with books at 20 cents. DeGraff, not wanting the competition, suggested a partnership with pocket-sized books at 25 cents. Schuster agreed. Dick Simon, the other half of Simon and Schuster, soon came on board.
With DeGraff putting up $16, 000 and Dick Simon, Lincoln Schuster, and their treasurer, Leon Shimkin, pooling another 14,000, DeGraff rented a two-room office in the Simon-Schuster building for himself and three employees: Lillian Lustig to oversee production, Patricia Stevens to man the typewriter and telephone, and Pete Howe for sales. He mailed 50,000 catalogues listing 52 titles he hoped to purchase and print.
He then offered original publishers 4% of the 25 cents cover price (1 penny per book) on the first 150,000 copies sold and 6% (1.5 cents) on each additional copy, plus $500 advance to be divided evenly with author.
DeGraff paid artist Frank Lieberman $50.00 to design the logo, a kangaroo (which Lieberman named "Gertrude" after his mother-in-law) holding a book in one hand, carrying a book in its pouch and wearing granny eyeglasses. The pouch eventually disappeared as complaints mounted that depictions of a kangaroo's pouch was obscene. The eyeglasses were also abandoned when research found they hurt sales by suggesting reading required glasses. Later the logo was revised by Walt Disney studios.
To avoid the sleazy reputation paperbacks had in America, scholar Philip Van Doren Stern was hired as advisor for the selection of titles. Later his anthologies of comedy stories would become best sellers for Pocket Books.
Finally, late 1938, DeGraff was ready with a test run in New York of 2,4300 copies of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, an earlier best seller for which he had obtained reprint rights for Blue Ribbon. It was a test tilted decidedly in his favor because not only was the book being made into a movie, the author had just won the Noble Prize for Literature. Macy's sold 695 copies, but more encouraging to DeGraff, the local cigar store on the corner by his offices sold 110 copies.
The real test came in January, 1939, when he printed 10,000 copies each of ten titles that, with The Good Earth, make up the first modern paperbacks published in America:
#1 Lost Horizon. James Hilton, technically the first mass produced modern paperback in America.
#2 Wake Up & Live. Dorothea Brande
#3 Five Great Tragedies. William Shakespeare
#4 Topper. Thorne Smith
#5 Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Agatha Christie
#6 Enough Rope...Dorothy Parker, the exception to the 10,000 copy press run. DeGraff published only 7,600 of this title.
#7 Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte, the first Pocket Book title to hit the best-seller list.
#8 Way of All Flesh.. Samuel Butler
#9 Bridge of San Luis . Thornton Wilder
#10 Bambi. Felix Salter
The Good Earth was listed as #11 with another 10,000 copies after the test run. (Collectors beware: This version had a cover with the price 25 cents in a circle. The test run did not have the price, but otherwise the covers are essentially the same.)
Salesman Pete Howe took the first books off the press, literally still so hot the covers curled up, to Macy's where he and deGraff hoped to win an order for 2,500 copies of each title. The head buyer glanced at the funny-looking books with glued pages and curling covers, and placed an order for 10,000 copies of each one.
When Liggetts' Department Stores, hoping to duplicate Woolworth's success with Penguin in England, placed a similar order, Packet Books had broken the first barrier in publishing: distribution.
And when, less than a day after placing the inventory in the stores, the books sold out, DeGraff knew he had successfully launched the third revolution in the paperback industry and was on his way to making publishing history. So did everyone else in the business. The phone in the Pocket Book two-room office rang day and night with orders.
Buyers were not the only ones calling, so too were original publishers and authors willing now to sell reprint rights for 4% of the paperback take.
Cedric Crowell at Doubleday, who had worked with DeGraff some years earlier, persuaded him to not ignore more traditional distributors now that he had proven the market for the paperback, and, within a few months, Pocket Books were being sold directly to bookstores and carried by the American News Co. to newsstands.
By the end of the first year, 1939, Pocket Books had sold over 1.5 million books.
Today, Robert Fair DeGraff is recognized as the father of the modern paperback.
Because the second best-selling title of the first eleven had been somewhat surprising: Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, DeGraff reasoned there might be a larger market than anticipated for mysteries, so the next group of ten titles featured two mysteries, and those, too, were the better sellers. A clear trend was established. By 1945, 40% of all Pocket Books were mysteries.
The most popular Pocket Book author was Erle Stanley Gardner, followed, in order, by Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Sayers, Ellery Queen, Earl Digger Biggs, Eric Ambler, Craig Rice, Nagio Marsh, John Dickson Carr, Carter Dickson, Cornell Woolrich, and Jonathan Latimer.
Of special interest to collectors are Pocket Book anthologies:
(#103, 1941) Pocketbook of Great Detectives, ed. Lee Wright
(#117, 1941) Pocketbook of Mystery Stories
(#213, 1943) Pocketbook of True Crime Stories, the first book edited by Anthony Boucher.
Unusual publications are always sought: Halfway House, Ellery Queen (#259) was published in the oblong format used by the Armed Services Editions. This is the only Pocket Book so shaped. A few Pocket Books experimented with dust jackets in imitation of Albatross books: # 268, 307, 321, and 324.
The first art director for the covers was Barbara Clitten. Rather than pay artists to do a particular cover for a particular book, she merely purchased, as cheaply as possible, general artwork she liked. The result was that many of the early Pocket Books have illustrations that have nothing to do with the books' contents and other paperback publishers picked up this marketing trick. In 1947 free-lance artist Sol Immerman became the art director and he redesigned the Pocket Book "look" that has become traditional. He retired in 1971.
In the fifties, the trend shifted from mysteries toward westerns, and Pocket Books again responded. By 1955, 40% of their titles were westerns, 30% mysteries.
Aside from producing the "first" modern paperbacks, Pocket has made records in other ways as well. In fact, it has been said the true success of Pocket Books has been its vast diversification, getting involved in every aspect of the paperback business.
It was the first to release a reprint while the hardback original was still on the best sellers list when it published Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People (1940)
John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra (1939), was the first Pocket Book to run into censorship problems. DeGraff withdrew it from the market.
Pocket did the first so-called "Instant Book" when it was able to write, print and distribute 300,000 copies of a tribute to Franklin Roosevelt within six days of his death. They also produced a book on the arrival of the atomic age, complete with pictures of the devastation of Hiroshima, within two weeks of the bomb drop.
It was the first to recognize the market for light non-fiction books when it placed several Bennett Cerf humor books on the best-seller list.
Pocket established the Teen-Age Book Club (1945) to encourage children to read. By taking the program into schools, it heralded the beginnings of the Scholastic Magazine and Book Service and its imitators.
In 1946 it published Doctor Spock's Baby and Baby Care, the best-selling English language book in history. Pocket also had the second and third best selling English language paperbacks: 1947, Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary; 1951, Rand McNally Pocket Atlas.
POCKET BOOK IMPRINTS
COMET from Oct. 1948 to Dec. 1949. A digest-sized book aimed at children, Comet was the outgrowth of Pocket's Teen-Age Book Club. The books were sold primarily through title lists distributed in public schools.
1. Wagons Westward.. Armstrong Sperry
2. Batter Up. .Jackson Scholz
3. Star-Spangled Summer. Janet Lambert
4. Tawny. Thomas C. Hinkle
5 300 Tricks You Can Do. Howard Thurston
POCKET BOOK JR. In January 1950 Comet was renamed and reformatted to look like regular Pocket Books. Its colophon was a boy and girl kangaroo reading a book. It too was marketed cheifly through classrooms. The imprint was sold in 1951 and renamed Scholastic Books.
J-35 Ski Patrol. Montgomery Atwater
J-36. Long Lash. Bertrand Shurtleff
J-37. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. .Mark Twain
J-38. Baldy of Nome. Esther Birdsall Darling
J-39. 1 Sponger's Jinx. Bert Sackett
POCKET BOOKS LIMITED. Published in London from August 1949 until the company's effort to invade England and challenge Penguin was abandoned in 1953.
B-I. Ming Yellow. John P. Marguand
B-2. Pro. Bruce Hamilton
B-3. The Lost Weekend...Charles Jackson
B-4. The Mink Coat...Kathleen Norris
B-5 Anatomy of Murder.. .Dorothy Sayers
CARDINAL EDITIONS. From September 1951. Priced a dime higher than Pocket Books. Colophon was a red cardinal bird.
C-1. Four Great Historical Plays...Shakespeare
C-2. King's Row. Harry Bellamann
C-3. In Tragic Life...Vardis Fisher
C-4. Cutlass Empire...F. Van Wyck Mason
C-5. The Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary
Special Notes to Collectors: Of special interest is The Man with the Golden Arm (C-31). It has a dust jacket designed by Stanley Meltzoff.
Cardinal numbers 354, 366, 369, 374, and 377-390 were skipped.
CARDINAL GIANTS. January 1953. Cost 50 cents and up.CG-1. The Cardinal...Henry Morton Robinson.
LIBRARY OF GREAT ART from Oct. 1953 to Jan 1955. These over-sized art books were published in co-operation with Harry N. Abrams Publishing, which continued the series without Pocket after 1955.
A-1. Degas...Daniel Catton Rich
A-2. El Greco...John Matthews
A-3. Toulouse-Lautrec. . .Samuel Hunter
A-4. Cezanne...Theodore Rousseau, Jr.
A-5. Duty...Alfred Werner
LIBRARY CLASSICS, from June 1954 to March 1959. Aimed at college professors and other professionals, these had dull non-glossy covers thought to be more "intellectual" in appearance. Was renamed in 1959 when Pocket purchased WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS.
PL-1. Man and the State: The Political Philosophers...Robert N. Linscott
PL-2. Man and Man: The Social Philosophers...Robert N. Linscott
PL-3. Man and the Universe.. .The Philosophers of Science.. Robert N. Linscott
PL-4. Man and Spirit: The Speculative Philosophers... Robert N. Linscott
PL-5. The Imitation of Christ...Thomas a Kempis
GOLDEN PRESS from 1962, series of children reference books.
ALL SAINTS PRESS, from 1962, emphasizing religious and inspirational books.
SILHOUETTE BOOKS from 1978. Established by Pocket to compete with Harlequin Romances.
In 1944, Pocket Books was purchased by Marshall Field, who held it until his death in 1957, when it was purchased from the estate by the original treasurer, Leon Shimkin.
In 1961, the company went public with the issue of 20% of its shares.
Pocket Books was purchased by Gulf & Western in 1975 and became a part of that conglomerate's fortunes.
Lawrence Spivak, owner of Mercury Press and publisher of American Mercury Magazine, (which earlier had been published by H.L. Meneken) in 1938 began publishing digest-sized books of 128 pages each, called Bestseller Library.
Its first issue was "The Adventures of Ellery Queen".
Because the best-selling issues were mysteries, Spivak divided the series into Bestseller Mystery and Mercury Library. Soon, however, the Mercury Library was also publishing mostly mysteries, so it was renamed Mercury Mystery.
In 1940, the Mercury Press began a third imprint, Jonathan Mystery, later renamed Jonathan Press Mystery.
The artist for all three imprints was the famous George Salter, "a master with the air-brush".
In 1941, Spivey launched Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, again with Salter as the cover artist.
Between these three imprints there were 11 collections of original, never before published works, nine by Dashnell Hammett, one from Ellery Queen and one by John Dickson Carr. When Hammett in the early 1950's was accused of being a Communist, Spivey refused to publish any more of Hammett's work until after he died; Hammett's tenth collection, A Man Named Thin, was not issued until 1962.
Lawrence Spivak's three imprints spawned numerous imitations in the small digest magazine format:
Black Cat, Bleak House, Bull's Eye, Derby, Eerie, Green Dragon, Hangman's House, Stark, Thriller, Unicorn. (See Individual listings.)
As DeGraft and Spivey were rushing to get books to the public, Allen Lane of Penguin Books in England was attempting to break into the American market with American Penguin Books. Despite his reservations about the intelligence of the typical American reader, he hired Ian Ballantine, a twenty-two year old who had done his thesis for a degree in Economics on the possibilities of paperback printing.
Ballantine contributed 49% of the start-up investment with the remainder shouldered by Lane. Ballantine had a staff of two: his wife Betty, and a stockboy.
Initially American Penguin was not a publisher but an importer. Ballantine would order Penguin titles he thought might sell in America. The books were shipped from England wrapped in lots of 100, 10 lots to a crate, at the rate of about 10-20 crates per month.
Lane and Ballantine began feuding over the direction of the company. With WWII underway in Europe, Lane wanted Ballantine to concentrate on Penguin Hansard books about the war's progress; Ballantine wanted to publish in American with books and covers more appealing to Americans. At this time Lane hired Kurt Enoch (the founder of Albatross Books in Germany; his story is told there and under New American Library) as vice-president with the clear intent of replacing Ballantine if the latter did not toe the line.
When America entered the war in December 1941, paper rationing and troop transports in the Atlantic made shipment of Penguins from England impossible. Ballantine was forced now to publish to survive.
He turned to the U.S. Army for help. Colonel Joseph E. Greene was the publisher of the army's "Infantry Journal". In exchange for a sufficient supply of paper, Ballantine offered to print in book form reprints of "Infantry Journal" articles about the war. The Army agreed, shipped paper to Ballantine, and soon the first American Penguin books appeared under the double imprint of "Infantry Journal-Penguin Books".
S75. New Ways of War...Tom Wintringham
S81. Russia...Bernard Pares
S82. Aircraft Recognition. .R.A. Saville-Sneath
S201. What's That Plane? by Walter A. Pitkin. This book, intended to help Americans identify Japanese airplanes overhead, is considered by many the first original work to appear in the modern paperback form. The book was literally put together at the Ballantine's kitchen table. Ian designed the cover, his wife Betty prepared the layout. Walter Pitkin typed the text, and his wife Suzanne traced the airplane silhouettes from an English war manual. The book was American Penguin's first run-away big seller.
With this success behind him, Ballantine and Enoch started publishing reprints unrelated to the war. To make the books more pleasing to American audiences, the size was reduced from the Penguin standard.
60. The Dark Invader...Captain Von Rintelen
79. The Rasp...Philip MacDonald
239. Stealthy Terrot..John Ferguson
276. The Case of the Late Pig.. Margery Allingham
339. High Rising...Angela Thirkell.
When Allen Lane visited the American operation in 1945, the feud that had been simmering between him and Ballantine erupted. Lane insisted the paperbacks be the same size as the English version which was a good inch taller than the format used by Pocket Books and Mercury. Ballantine insisted on covers with enticing artwork. Lane angrily refused, demanding instead the "more dignified" British-style cover with words only. Furious, he bought Ballantine out and turned the operation over to Enoch.
Neither the American-style nor the British-style however did much for the fortunes of the company, which could not get a foothold in America. Lane finally gave up and sold the business to Enoch, who renamed it The New American Library (see, 1948).
Other American Penguins of interest: Numbers 503, 538, 545,575, 586, and 618 were reissued with dust jackets. Artist Robert Jonas was hired in 1945 to design covers for the books. Before he left in 1948 he had established an unique paperback cover art style much sought after today by collectors.LANDMARKS
One of the largest bookstores in America at the time was the Old Corner Bookshop in Boston. The owner refused to carry paperbacks on the grounds they were "trash". American Penguins, however, with their sleek, classic covers (plus the sales numbers his rivals were tallying with Pocket Books) persuaded him to carry paperbacks---although he sold them under the counter. It has been said that once Old Corner Bookshop began carrying paperbacks, the last barrier to their acceptance fell.IMPRINTS
Infantry Journal. Its most famous books:
New Soldier's Handbook (S202); How the Jap Army Fights; and Handbook for Army Wives and Mothers.
PENGUIN. Published 159 titles from March 1942 (#501) to December 1947 (#661) when it became, for one month,
PENGUIN SIGNET. There is no #658 or #660, and #652 was printed out of sequence.
PENGUIN SPECIALS, March 1942-July 1945, numbered in sequence, from S210 to S240.
PELICAN. Jan. 1946 to Jan. 1948, when it became PELICAN MENTOR.
PENGUIN GUIDES. July 1947. Only two titles:
G1. The Penguin Guide to California...Carl Maas
G2. How to Know and Enjoy New York.. Carl Maas
EAGLE BOOKS. Only one book published, November 1947: #E3. Duchess Hotspur...Rosamond Marshall. There may have been two unnumbered titles issued earlier by Eagle (some say they were issued as Penguins, perhaps as both): Dear Sir by Juliet Lowell and Kitty by Rosamond Marshall.
1942. Founded as American Penguin.
1948. Company purchased by co-owner Kurt Enoch and renamed New American Library of World Literature.
RETURN TO TOP
and RED ARROW
[This company was different than the one of the same name out of New York, which, established in 1945, still exists today.]
Western Printing and Lithographing Company, out of Racine, Wisconsin, had become a powerhouse by handling the printing of countless pulp magazines in the 1920's. Through Dell Publications alone it produced dozens of magazines and comic books, and held the licensing rights to all Walt Disney and Warner Brothers cartoon characters, plus, it handled editorial and printing duties for several hardback publishers, most notably Saalfield Reprints and Whitman children's books. So when Saalfield rival, Robert DeGraft, president of Blue Ribbon Books, launched the paperback revolution, it seemed only natural that Western Printing would be an early participant, especially considering it had already created the Little Big Books concept.
The company, guided by owner Sam Lowe, established two subsidiaries to publish paperback books.
BANTAM BOOKS (of Los Angeles). Not to be confused with Bantam Books established in 1945, this was an attempt to sell paperbacks by vending machine. It proved to be an idea ahead of its time. (In 1947-48 Pockets Books placed book vending machines called Dadsons in airports and train stations, and in 1952 Avon installed "Vend-avons" at LaGuardia Airport.)
Bantam of Los Angeles, where Western Printing had located its West Coast branch, followed the more dignified stylings of Penguin of England and Albatross of Germany with covers of blue, black, and green without illustrations,
Thirty-one titles were issued, but the series and the vending machine concept made only a marginal profit, and in 1943, during the paper-shortage years of World War II, the company was shut down. Its first titles were:
1. The Spanish Cape Mystery...Ellery Queen
2. Little Known Facts About Well-Known People...Dale Carnegie
3. Your Health Questions.. .Morris Fishbein, M.D.
4. Everybody's Dream Book: Your Dreams Explained
5. How to Make Friends Easily
Issue number 21 is a collectible; it was the company's only book issued with a cover illustration.
RED ARROW BOOKS. In the same year, 1939, Western also started Red Arrow Books out of their Columbia Art Works, Milwaukee location. This series, like Bantam of Los Angeles, was imitative of the style of Penguin. Its covers, also without illustrations, were color-coded:
Numbers 1-5 were mysteries with red covers; Numbers 6-10 were travel and adventure tales with green covers; Numbers 11-12 were novels with blue covers.
Its first titles were:
#1. Thirteen at Dinner...Agatha Christie
#2. Murder-on-Hudson.. .Jennifer Jones
#3. Murders in Praed Street...John Rhode
#4. Death in the Library...Philip Ketchum
#5. Death Wears a White Gardenia...Zelda Popkin
Title # 4 was issued with two covers, one traditional, the other illustrated.
Although both of his attempts to establish a paperback line died, Sam Lowe went on to successfully create several hardback publishing houses.
In the early 1950's Western Printing was purchased outright by Dell Books.
To fill the hole left by the departure of Pocket Books (which went to independent distribution), the American News Company hired Joseph and Edna Meyers to start a rival to Pocket. Meyers was no stranger to the book world; he had started Illustrated Editions Classics, hardcover reprints sold through Macy's Department Stores. With ANC's money, Meyers purchased J.S. Ogilvie Publications (see), a pulp fiction magazine company, renamed it Avon Publications, and set out to design a line of paperbacks.
Meyers hired Charles Byrne as editor-in-chief and Fredrick Klien as vice-president. The team intended to adopt the Pocket Book format with certain enhancements, such as glossy covers, frontispiece artwork, and illustrations throughout. (Only six Avon books would meet that description.) For a colophon William Shakespeare's head was chosen because he had been born in Stratford-upon-Avon.
On November 21, 1941, Avon released twelve titles, each reprints, under the name of Avon Pocket-Sized Books. None of the first Avons had numbers, but the first five came off the press in this order
nn Elmer Gantry... Sinclair Lewis
nn The Rubiayet of Omar Khayaam
nn The Big Four...Agatha Christie
nn Ill Wind...James Hilton
nn Dr. Priestly Investigates...John Rhode
Thus began the second branch of the American paperback industry. Whereas Pocket was rooted in the traditional book publishing business, Avon was rooted in the pulp magazine tradition. This is even reflected in the selection of titles and cover artwork, with Avon being much more exploitative. (At the time, Lewis and Faulkner were considered "dirty" authors, and the books were sold as such by Avon.) Meyers made no pretense to having literary taste. American News Company, which distributed what many considered pornography, certainly did not
care about literary merits. Said one critic, Joseph Meyers has "terrible taste in literature and women". "Throw-away literature" is how another described Avon's titles.
But the most accurate criticism was simply stated: "Avons are pulps in paperback form."
Two weeks after Avon Pocket-Sized Books were released, Pocket Books filed a law-suit for copyright infringement on several grounds. First, Avon was using the phrase "pocket-sized"; second, the end pages of Avon were the same bright red as Pocket Books (the first 16 also had a spider web motif), and third, Avon duplicated the size of Pocket Books exactly. The first court ruled, January 19, 1942, in favor of Avon, but the appeals court on Nov. 2, 1942 sided with Pocket Books. By the time the case reached the New York Appellate court in January 1944, Avon had dropped "Pocket-Sized" from their name and changed the color of the end pages. The court ruled that with the changes Avon was no longer violating any copyrights or trademarks, and that Pocket Books did not have any special claim to the format size. Other publishers were free to manufacture their own version of pocket-sized books.
Some collectible Avon titles:
Avon began numbering books at #41, The Narrow Corner, by W. Somerset Maugham.
Avons #2, 14, 113, 127, 246, and 262 were the only six to keep the original promise to provide illustrations within.
Terror of the Leopard Men (339), by Juba Kennerley.
The Lurking Fear (136), H.P. Lovecraft.
The Daughter of FuManchu (189), Sax Roehmer.
Generally the Avon cover art is considered inferior to that found on Pocket Books, but there is a certain collector interest in the sleazier, more graphic work. Walter Brooks and Don Milsop were among the earlier artists at Avon.
The cover of A.A. Merritt's Creep, Shadow, Creep (#117) shows a woman fleeing a shadowy monster. Although there is little offensive about it by today's standards, the cover did provoke so controversy in its day.
Jack Kerouac got so lazy about his career that at its height he allowed several of his original manuscripts to be published first as paperbacks. Avon had two: Tristessa and Maggie Cassidy, and each is of collector interest.
LANDMARKSCo-owner Edna Meyers championed romances and in the the 1970's introduced the work of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodwiess, which opened a new genre of sexually-explicit novels aimed at women. By 1980 the romance line was Avon's best-selling category.
1942, Avon began the MURDER MYSTERY MONTHLY, which survived until 1947. In 1950, an attempt was made to resurrect the series with the publication of three additional titles, but it failed.
The most interesting of the Murder Mystery Monthly books are:
James Cain, Double Indemnity.
Dwight Babcock, Hannah Says Foul Play. This may be the first original novel issued in paperback form without first having a hardback issue.
George Harmon Coxe, the Flash Casey series.
William Irish (pen-name for Cornell Woolrich), (#31) If I Should Die Before I Wake; (#42) Borrowed Crime.
Raymond Chandler, three books of short stories reprinted from "Black Mask" and "Dime Detective" magazines. These are the first Chandler stories in book form.
From 1945 to 1947 Avon issued a series of digest-sized books that some collectors refuse to admit into the discussion of paperbacks, but many of these are actually more sought by collectors than the pocket-sized books.
AVON MONTHLY NOVELS. Digest-sized. Among the more sought after:
James Cain, Sinful Woman and Jealous Woman. His first books to appear in paperback without a hardback printing.
James Hadley Chase, 12 Chinks and a Woman. Controversial subject and cover illustration.
Robert Block, Scarf of Passion (original Hardback title: The Scarf).
AVON FANTASY NOVELS. Published only two digest-sized books, April 1950.
Other digest-sized book series were:, FANTASY READER, WE AVON DETECTIVE STERN NOVEL, and BEDSIDE NOVEL.
Robert Block, Scarf of Passion.
Raymond Chandler, Big Sleep.
AVON ORIGINALS from January 1953.
Cornell Woolrich, Beyond the Night. (T354); Doom Stone. (T408) $20.00. His last work.
Isaac Asimov, Death Dealers (T287). His first mystery.
AVON BARD. Began July 1955.
Avon also handled printing and distribution of paperbacks that some say were separate companies and not an imprint. (See Eton Books and Diversey Books). Many of the titles printed by these companies returned as Avon Specials.
In 1959, Avon was purchased by the Hearst Corporation. At that time Avon switched to a larger sized Paperback and added the colophon "A".
Owned by Quinn Publishing Company, the actual date Handi-books began publishing is debated. Some sources place the first book---and there is not even agreement on which was first---in 1943, but the matter is muddled because the first Handi-Books were not numbered.
Sources also disagree on how many Handi-Books were published. Some list 139 titles, others 128. The last book published was #139, but no one seems to know if the series began at #1 or #12.
nn Odds on the Hot Seat. Judson Phillips
nn Decoy.. .Cleve F. Adams
nn 12 Chinks and a Woman. James Hadley Chase
nn Seven Men...Theodore Roscoe
These paperbacks were stapled in the center rather than glued. They had crude but artistic abstract covers.
Special original works were published for Harry Whittington, "the king of paperback writers" and Lawrence C. Blockman.
Handi-books have numerous collectors.
HANDI-BOOK WESTERNS. Published four novels in 1947.
1 The Cow Kingdom... Paul Evan Lehman
2. Rio Renegade...Leslie Ernewein
3. The Long Noose...Oscar J. Friend
4. West of the Wolverine.. .Paul Evan Lehman
Begun by Quinn Publishing Company, 1941 or 1943.
In 1945, company relocated from New York City to Kingston, New York, where it continued publishing until it went out of business in 1951.
Pulp magazine publisher Ned L. Pines established this line with the conifer pine logo. Exclusively mystery titles until 1947, the first five were:
nn Saint Overboard....Leslie Charteris
nn Danger in the Dark....Mignon Eberhart
nn Crime of Violence.. Rufus King
#4 Murder in the Madhouse...Jonathan Latimer
#5 Miss Pinkerton...Mary Roberts Rhinehart
Issues #1 to #100 (or so) had surreal covers imitative of Gregg's work at Dell. Most---81 of the first 86---were drawn by H. Lawrence Hoffman.
In 1947, in response to a Bantam marketing ploy, Popular Library redesigned their covers. Artists Earle Bergey and Rudolph Belarski produced very slick "pin-up" illustrations usually featuring sexy damsels-in~distress. Some were considered pornographic. The Private Life of Helen of Troy (PL147), John Erskine, is a good example found in most histories of paperbacks. Bergey's cover shows the statueque Helen in a clinging gown, the shape of her nipples clearly visible. This was considered shocking. An example of a controversial Belarski cover is found illustrating Helen Reilley's, The Doll Trunk Mystery, (PL2I1). Interestingly, many of their covers were originally done for Pine's pulp magazines and re-used on paperbacks without regard to the actual contents of the book; to critics this practice made the covers even more offensive and gratuitous. Collectors eagerly seek out the more risque Bergey and Belarski covers.
Other Avon books with covers of interest to collectors:
Sax Rolimer, Tales of Chinatown (217).
William Irish, Six Nights of Mystery, (PL258) and Bluebird's Seventh Wife (PL272).
George Worts, Overboard (PL292).
Other authors whose Popular Library editions are sought:
Hal Ellson, Thomas B Dewey, William Ard, John D MacDonald, and true crime books from Boswell & Thompson (See Gold Medal Books).
POPULAR LIBRARY EAGLE From November 1953 to February 1958. These are large, oversized, usually green in color. About 104 titles, numbered EB1-EB104.
1942, founded by Ned Pines as part of his pulp-magazine empire.
1971, Popular Library was purchased by CBS.
1982, CBS sold Popular Library to Warner Corporation.
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Had only one book: #1. Rocket to the Morgue...H.H. Holmes
No other details are known.
(There is a digest-sized magazine series called "Phantom Books", published in the 1950's by Hanro Corporation, but they say they had nothing to do with this 1942 work.)
Another publishing house rooted in pulp magazines, Dell was founded in 1922 by George T. Delacorte, who by 1929 had broadened his base from pulp fiction to four-color comics. Delacorte was licensed by Walt Disney and Looney Tunes to publish magazines and comics of their cartoon characters. By 1935, Dell was the largest magazine publishing firm, producing over 160,000,000 magazines and 300,000,000 comics a year. Virtually all of these were coming off the presses at Western Printing and Lithography in Milwaukee; the history of Dell and Western are closely intertwined.
In 1926, Delacorte hired a 16 year-old girl named Helen Meyer to work in his plant. She rose steadily through the company until she was named in 1942 to start and head a paperback book division. (For this reason, she is often referred to as the "First Lady of Paperbacks".) She contracted with Western Publishing to print and with American National News to distribute the new product.
#1. Death in the Library...Philip Kitchum.
#2. Dead or Alive..Patricia Wentworth
#3. Murder-on-Hudson.. Jennifer Jones
#4. The American Gun Mystery...Ellery Queen
#5. Four Frightened Women...George Harmon Coxe
After #4, Dell added a map on the back cover of each book until the practice was halted in 1953. Dell books with the map are highly collectible.
The first 300 Dells had covers designed by artist Gerald Gregg, which tended toward wierd surrealism, often featuring skeletons. The covers were in bright four-color print. Grgg covers bring a premium.
In 1952 when Walter Brooks became the art director, the covers at Dell became more abstract, experimental, and moved away from controversial depictions.
The Dell "look" of the 1950's was primarily the work of Robert Stanley, a prolific illustrator.
Dell floundered until 1952 when an executive shake-up put some energy into the firm. Delacourte hired Knox Burger to establish an new imprint, Dell First Editions. At Western Printing, Frank Taylor was hired to improve the lay-out quality of Dell books. He promoted a Western executive, Allan Barnard, to develop a line of classic reprints.
Barnard went through publishers lists in search of "forgotten authors" whose original work had not been picked up by any reprint publisher. He found several, including Evelyn Waugh and Mary McCarty, whose works might easily have been forgotten had he begun reprinting them.
In 1957 Dell produced the first genuine paperback "blockbuster" when it released Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. It remained on the best-selling list for nearly two years, a record that stood until the 1990's.
Two other run-away best-sellers from Dell were Francose Sagan's BonjourTristesse and Robert Traver' s Anatomy of a Murder.
Helen Meyer and Dell were influential in the promotion of Romance Books, a genre that exploded in the 70's. Some historians cite the First Lady of Paperbacks as the "First Lady of Romance Books" as well.
TEN-CENT BOOKS. In 1951, Dell issued 36 titles reprinted from magazines that had never been in book form. There were limited to 64 pages and were more like novelles in pamphlet format. The experiment died the same year.
1. Trumpets West!.. Luke Short
2. Rain...W. Somerset Maugham
3. Night Bus...Samuel H. Adams
4. Locked Doors...Mary Roberts Rinehart
5. Bride from Broadway...Faith Baldwin The most collectible of 10-Cent books are:
William Irish, Marihuana, (#11) is the most sought after of the early Dells. The cover shrieks, "A cheap and evil girl gets a hopped-up killer against a city11. According to some collectors, this is the second or third most valuable paperback. Others of interest:
William Irish, You'll Never See Me Again
Fredrick Brown, Case of the Dancing Sadwiches, (#33)
DELL FIRST EDITION. From 1953 to 1956, there were 243 titles:
lE. Down.. Walt Grove
2E. Madball...Frederic Brown
3E. Women...A.M. Krich
4E. The Girl on the Beach...George Sumner Albee
5E. The Bloody Spur...Charles Einstein
Other collectibles in this series:
Authors who had original first editions published by this imprint: John D. MacDonald, Jim Thompson, Jack Finney, Donald Hamilton, Elmore Leonard, C.S. Forester, Richard Wormser, Steven Ritkin.
DELL LAUREL EDITIONS began in May of 1957 and were primarily "classics of the world" .Laurel was the name of Allan Barnard's daughter.
LC1O1. Four Plays...George Bernard Shaw
LCIO2. Great English Short Stories
LC1O3. Great American Short Stories..,ed. Wallace and Mary Stegner
LC1O4. Modern American Dictionary
LC10S. Common Wild Animals and their Young...Rita and William Vandivert.
LAUREL LEAF LIBRARY. Books for young adults.
YEARLING BOOKS. Written for pre-teens.
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This Chicago firm had two imprints.
QUICK READER BOOKS. Lasted two years, 1944 and 1945. These books were stapled, 128 pages long, and illustrated. The first five were:
101. Stories of Guy de Maupassant
102. The Killers...Stewart Edward White
103. Nana...Emile Zola
104. The Chillers...Dorothy L. Sayers
105. You'll Laugh Your Head Off
TROPHY BOOKS. Published only two titles, both in 1946.
401. Smile Brother Smile....(anthology)
402. The Pilditch Puzzle...W.B.M. Ferguson
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Twenty-one titles from November 1944 to September 1945, from M637-M657.
Published for U.S. Servicemen in wartime. After the war this company was distributed by American Penguin. When Ballantine left Penguin to found Bantam Books, he took this account with him. Occasionally we find Military Service Publishing listed as a subsidiary of Penguin, sometimes of Bantam, but it was more of a partnership. Many American Penguin war-era books carry the Military Service Publishing ID.
INFANTRY JOURNAL published two books June 1945 without the Bantam or Penguin logo.
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Althought Ideal was principally a distribution company, it had three imprints of its own:
GREEN DRAGON. Thirty-three titles were published between 1944 and 1947, but most were in the digest-size format. Numbers 25-33 were true paperbacks.
25. She Screamed Blue Murder....
26. Stone Dead...Patrick Laing
27. Headsman's Holiday...Dean Hawkins
28. The Late Lamented Lady...
29. A Matter of Policy...Sam Merwin, Jr.
GREEN CIRCLE. One book issued 1946.
BLACK KNIGHT MYSTERIES. There were nine books issued in 1946. The first was evidently numbered 26.
26. Death is No Lady...M.E. Come
27. The Psychiatric Murders...M. Scott Michel
28. The Kidnappers.. Albert E. Uliman
29. Green for a Grave...Manning Lee Stokes
NOTE: There was also an Ideal Publishing Company owned by Grosset-Dunlap to distribute specialty magazines (teen-age fanzines, for example). We aren't clear if the paperback book publisher was the same organization or not.
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Eccentric publisher and physical fitness guru Bernarr MacFadden had made a fortune with his MacFadden Publications---"Liberty", "Physical Culture", "True Story", and others. For years he had sold health books by mail through his magazines, so it seemed natural to establish a subsidiary book publishing operation. Bartholomew House was born in 1941.
Three years later Bartholomew House entered the paperback field and survived until 1946 with primarily novelizations of Hollywood movies.
It published only 40 titles. First was #3 (there may have been two unnumbered earlier titles.) Then each book was numbered consecutively until #39. In between, Hart also released books numbered 101, 102, and 103.
3. The Hand in the Cobbler's Safe...Seth Bailey
4. The Delinquent Ghost.. .Eric Hatch
5. The Spy Trap...William Gilman
6. Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth...H.P. Lovecraft
7. John Smith Hears Death Walking.. Wyatt Blassingame
Although Bartholomew House and Hart Books were formally discontinued in 1947, MacFadden joined publisher Lee Bartell in 1961 to issue the MacFadden-Bartell line of self-help paperbacks, and Bartholomew House resurfaced in 1967 with a line of hardback nonfiction works.
After his disagreement with Allen Lane at American Penguin, Ian Ballantine decided to start his own line of paperbacks, and his route to securing financial backing led him full circle to where the DeGraff had been in 1938 when he had gone first to Grosset and Dunlap, which, fighting to keep the company family-owned, had reluctantly turned him down. Now, seven years later, it was Ballantine who was knocking on the door at Grosset and Dunlap.
In 1944, financier Marshall Field III had purchased Simon and Schuster and Pocket Books. He then tried to buy Grosset and Dunlap; such a purchase would give him a vertical monopoly: a first-print hardback company, a hardback reprint business, and a publisher of paperback reprints. George Dunlap was uninterested in the business and wanted out; he had already signed the agreement to sell. Donald Grosset, however, who had fought to keep the business in the family, demanded another forthy-eight hours to put together his own financial package. Knowing no single business would match Marshall Field's offer of $2.25 million dollars, he quickly assembled a consortium of publishers led by Bennett Cerf at Random House to try to block the Field take-over. Others who made the split-instant decision to invest in Grosset and Dunlap were Harry Scherman, Book-of-the-Month Club; Alfred McIntyre of Little, Brown; Cass Canfield of Harper; and Charles Scribner. Each company invested $370,000 (Book-of-the-Month put up double, $740,000) for a total cost of over $2.5 million dollars. John O'Connor, whose Quarrie Corporation published the World Book Encyclopedia, was hired to run the new Grosset and Dunlap as a joint subsidiary of these five publishers.
Having toyed for some time with creating a serious rival to Pocket Books, Bennett Cert arranged for Curtis Publishing Company, which issued the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines, to distribute the new line. Curtis and Grosset and Dunlap each put up $500,000 to give Ballantine the one million dollars he needed to get started. (Curtis later sold its share to G&D.;) Ballantine put in about $100,000 of his own money. (Final breakdown: G & D and Curtis each owned 42.5%, Ballantine 9%, and Random House 3%.)
So, in August, 1945, Grosset and Dunlap, in partnership with Ian Ballantine, began Bantam Books, so named to rival the albatross, penguin, pelican, and kangaroo. Bernard Geis designed the logo. (Geis was destined to become a flamboyant publisher himself. See Bernard Geis, Associates.)
The first titles were:
#1 Life on the Mississippi....Mark Twain
#2 Gift Horse....Frank Gruber
#3 Nevada.... Zane Grey
#4 Evidence of Things Seen....Elizabeth Daley
#5 Scaramouche....Rafael Sabitini
#6 Murder by Marriage....Robert Dean
#7 Grapes of Wrath....John Steinbeck
On January 31, 1946, Bantam released 200,000 copies each of 20 titles, reprints of hardbacks, at 25 cents each, with distribution by Curtis to newsstands across America..
Ballantine's drive and partial ownership did not protect him. When Bantam attempted to establish a branch in England, Ballantine invested an additional $26,000 of his own money without approval from Grosset & minor partner Random House. Although there was no question of dishonest intent, and Bennett Cerf acknowledged the amount was fairly small, they resented his acting on his own in such matters and fired him.
(Ironically, Ballantine will go on to establish yet a 3rd line of paperbooks, this one named after himself, sell it to Intext, who will in turn sell it to Random House, which immediately fires him a second time. However, Random House's parent company by that time will be RCA, which hires Ballantine to come back to Bantam..)
Without Ballantine, Bantam floundered--one executive even pronounced the company dead. In 1955, Oscar Dytel was hired to head the firm and he managed to turn it around; under his leadership, Bantam became one the major paperback publishing houses.
To compete for attention with magazines, Bantam's covers became increasingly sexy and racy; for example, the cover for Little Women showed women in cleavage-exposing dresses. The decision by Bantam to push the limits of censorship encouraged--perhaps even forced--other players to follow. Popular Library actually ordered its artists to see how far they could go in depicting sex and violence. Many historians lay the blame for the Congressional investigations into paperback sleaze at the doorstep of the pulp magazine publishers, but much of it belongs to the initial efforts by Bantam to stand out from the growing crowd of paperback publishers.
Bantam's other major innovation--at least in America--was the use of dust jackets on its paperbacks. Although Albatross had used jackets to enhance the sense of quality of the paperback, Bantam's motive was primarily to hide the covers of books that had failed to sale and were cluttering their warehouse. In 1946, the Bantam of edition of The Great Gatsby had flopped miserably. When the movie was released in 1949, Bantam decided to ship out the old unsold copies with a dust jacket deplicting actor Alan Ladd shirtless. The book became a best seller, so Bantam continued the trick. Other publishers picked up on the idea. There were only about 30 books issued with a dust jacket, most of which were mysteries.
Bantam's top author was Fredrick Brown. His name on a Bantam label is highly sought after. Other staples of Bantam's success are Erskine Caldwell , Grace Livingstone Hill, Emilie Loring, and Louis L'Amour.
In 1980, following the stunning upset by the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team to take the gold medal, Bantam produced an "Extra", Miracle on Ice, about the victory, within 46 hours of the win.
BANTAM BIOGRAPHIES. Begun January, 1956, published only 18 titles before suspending operations September 1958. The books are numbered #FB4OO - FB418.
BANTAM CLASSICS. Begun September 1958 with # AC1.
PENNANT. Ran from June 1953 to July 1955, # P1-P79, with about 13 numbers missing.
PEACOCK BOOKS. Trade books designed to compete with Anchor, This was line established by Ian Ballantine and his wife Betty after returning to Bantam in 1973. (See above).
In 1968, Bantam was purchased by National General Corporation, a motion picture company known for its Cineplex Theaters.
In 1974 the corporation was purchased by the multi-national giant Istituto Finanziaro Industriale (IFI), best known in America for its Fiat automobile. Minority owner was Gulf & Western, which the following year would purchase Pocket Books.
Bantam was then be sold in 1980 to Bertelsmann Publishing, the giant house out of Germany.
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Take a famous novel and heavily condense it into a short story and you have the idea behind this series. Only four titles were printed:
#1. Twelve of the World's Famous Books
#2. The Scarlet Letter...Nathaniel Hawthorne
#3. Twelve of the World's Famous Adventure Books
#4. Twelve of the World's Famous Love Stories
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Parsee issued no books under its own name, but had two imprints. All dates of issue are debated.
BLEAK HOUSE BOOKS officially released six titles from 1946-1948, but collectors have identified ten, plus two digest-sized books. Sources state the series began with #12, but we have found no titles prior to #14.
#14. The Case of the Blood-Stained Dime...Minna Barton
#15. The Case of the Missing Corpse...Joan Langar
#16. The Corpse in the Guest Room.. Clement Wood
#17. The Skyscrapper Murder...Samuel Spewack
#18. Murder Menagerie...Jeremy Lane
HANGMAN1S HOUSE had eight true paperbacks published in 1946 or 1947. Numbers 1-11 were digest-sized. There was no #13.
#12. The Cowl of Doom...Edward Ronns
#14. The Corpse that Spoke...
#15. The Cipher of Death...F.L. Gregory
#16. Thereby Hangs a Corpse...
#17. The Road House Murders...Robert Portner Koehler
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Published by Anson Bond. Out of Hollywood, it was one of the few publishers not located in New York City.
Issued 16 titles, May 1946 (#1) to February 1947 (#15), most of which, for some reason, were references to eating.
I. The Goose is Cooked..Emmet Hogarth
2. Murder of a Novelist...Sally Wood
3. The Hungry House...Lilian Laufery
4. Murder Strikes Thrice.. Charles C. Booth
5. I'll Eat You Last...H.C. Branson
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This intended series was advertised as "Books that Fit on Your Hip", but so far as is known, only one title ever made it onto anyone's hip.
#1. The Mystery of the Red Suitcase...Lula M. Day
In 1936, with the growing power of Nazism and its censorship, Albatross founder Kurt Enoch and his family had left Germany for Paris where he continued to operate a dwindling book business. When World War II began, the French Government, fearing he was a German propagandist, arrested him.. Eleanor Roosevelt intervened on his behalf and, after various twists and turns worthy of the finest adventure story, Enoch found himself re-united with his family in the United States.
A few years earlier Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books in England had discussed a joint venture with Enoch, so when, following his growing feuds with Ian Ballantine, he learned Enoch had arrived in the United States, he immediately (1939) offered him a position as vice-president of American Penguin. Clearly, Lane was planning to replace Ballantine, but Enoch insisted in interviews years later that he and Ballantine got along well together and that what ever friction existed in the company was produced by Lane himself.
Two years later, Lane did indeed fire Ian Ballantine and hand control of the company over to Enoch. But not even he could reverse the fortunes of American Penguin. Its English size and pictureless cover simply could not compete with gaudier American paperbacks. Plus, Lane was having copyright problems trying to publish the same book in both countries. So, finally, in 1948, Lane abandoned his effort to establish American Penguin and sold the company to Kurt Enoch who renamed it the New American Library of World Literature, or NAL. (There had been a company named American Library, 1942, that had gone out of business.) To help editorially and financially, Enoch in turn sold part ownership to Victor Weybright.
Enoch and Weybright persuaded pulp fiction producer Fawcett Magazine Co. to distribute their books, similar to the way Curtis was participating in Bantam. They signed a non-compete agreement: NAL would not publish magazines, Fawcett would not publish books.
(However, Fawcett insisted on a "small exemption" that allowed them to print book-sized anthologies of stories and crossword puzzles from their magazines; to Enoch's disappointment, this clause became a major loop-hole that allowed Fawcett to compete directly. See Gold Medal Books.)
Generally, even after the sale, NAL published American editions of English titles in the same awkward English format. Horace McCoy, No Pockets in a Shroud (#690) is good example.
Only when Enoch and Weybright began concentrating on American authros did the company start to prosper. NAL promoted the works of Erskine Caldwell and Mickey Spillane, as well as more acceptable literary authors such as Faulkner and D.H. Lawrence. By 1955 New American Library had not only gotten the foothold in America that Allen Lane had failed to achieve, but it had passed Avon, Dell and Bantam in sales to become Pocket Books' primary rival.
NAL managed to reach a wide range of readers without losing its identification as one of the more "intellectual" houses.
In its first ten years of existence it published the work of six Nobel prize winning authors and purchased the rights to six Pulitzer prize winners. It also introduced such esteemed new authors as Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote.
It's big successes was Drieser's American Tragedy, which sold out its first printing of 400,000 copies, an unheard of number in those days. Enoch also supported authors who ran into censorship problems; for example NAL's Caldwell's God's Little Acre sold in the millions.
This track record helped NAL change the image of paperbacks, and gradually NAL's titles began appearing in college bookstores long before other paperback publishers broke through.
On the other hand, NAL also published titles that caused more than one little old literature professor to blush.
In 1949, Signet, for example, issued the first paperback by Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury. The anti-hero, Mike Hammer, represented a new breed of American detective. From 1949 until the late 50's, Spillane would be the best selling author in the world, with most of those sales being Signet paperbacks.
The Ian Fleming's James Bond stories were introduced to America by NAL.
NAL purchased reprint rights to Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead for $35,000, an obscenely high price that anticipated the sky-rocketing costs of signing an author. NAL in 1954 climbed another rung in that ladder when it paid $100,000 for the paperback rights to James Jones' From Here to Eternity. And, appropriately, NAL was the first to cross the million and a half dollar mark for a non-fiction work when it paid $1,500,00
for Joy of Cooking. In 1978, $2,250,000 for the combined rights for Fools Die and The Godfather, each by Mario Puzo. Few companies were as responsible for the soaring costs of paperback rights as was NAL.
In 1968, NAL issued a series of "Broadsides" that protested the Vietnam War. Little booklets held together by two staples, they had to be displayed flat.
In 1975, NAL had the run-away hit Love Story, by Erich Segal.
And NAL was the first to publish Stephen King in paperback.
SIGNET. Designed to carry classic reprints, Penguin Signet began in March 1948 at #658 with William Faulkner's The Wild Palms (NAL continued the numbering scheme of American Penguin.) There is disagreement over when the Penguin was dropped from the name and it became strictly Signet Books; one source shows #678, another source shows #660.
Taking the later number, the first five Signet Books would be:
660. 100 American Poems...ed. by Selden Rodman
661. Tragic Ground.. .Erskine Calawell
662. Invitation to the Waltz.. Rosamond Lehman
663. As Good as Dead...Thomas B. Dewey
664. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man...James Joyce.
Later, after being burned by Fawcett, NAL issued first-print novels. Frank Cruber and James Cain are two other authors who did original work for Signet.
Cover artist of note: James Avanti, whose first cover was for William Gardner Smith's Last of the Conquerors. Although his signature covers are usually dark and cheerless, some critics have called him the "Rembrandt of Paperback Illustrators" because of his often stark American Realism. He became in the 1950's the most imitated illustrator.
SIGNET GIANTS and SIGNET DOUBLE VOLUMES issued from 1950, were 50 cent books. SIGNET TRIPLES, were 75 cents. The first titles to carry the DOUBLE name were:
#1. Knock on Any Door
#2. Forever Amber
#3. Young Lions
#4. Naked and the Dead
SIGNET KEY BOOKS. Was begun in 1954 to separate Signet's popular non-fiction from Mentor's more scholarly works. The first book as numbered K300. Series ceased at K373.
SIGNET CLASSICS. August 1959. First, CD1.
MENTOR BOOKS. As Signet was the continuation of Penguin, Mentor was the continuation of the Penguin imprint, Pelican. Designed for classroom use, the Mentor line was almost entirely non-fiction and anticipated the trade paperback. It was broken into five categories: Classics, Anthropology and Psychology, Economics, Philosophy, and Religion.
The first Mentor (following four Pelican Mentors) was number M30, America in Persective by Henry Steele Commager.
NEW WORLD WRITING. 1952. Described as a "magazine in book form.".
MENTOR PHILOSOPHERS. 1955 to 1956. Robert Jonas (see Dell Books) did most of the cover designs for this imprint.
In 1966, New American Library was purchased by Times-Mirror. A bitter fight broke out between Enoch who favored the sale and Weybright who opposed it In 1967, Weybright published his autobiography in which he savagely and personally attacked Enoch. Later, he formed Weybright-Talley Publishing (see).
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Published by Ward-Hill, New York. Issued only two books, both in 1949, both soft-core pornography, and both very highly sought after today.
#100. Passion is a Gentle Whip...Milton H. Cropper
#103. Venus on Furs...Leopold Sacher-Masoch, whose name gave us the word "masochist", largely due to this book.
We could find no record of any book between these two, despite the numbering.
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Founded by Zane Bouregy and Sam Tankel who owned a lithography business, this company was noted for outstanding color graphics that, unfortunately, in addition to making the books distinctive, also make them expensive to produce.
Started 1949 with #11.
11. Murder---Queen High...Bob Wade
12. If I live to Die...Hillary Waugh
13. FLACH---Hold for Murder...James M Fox
14. Death Commits Bigamy.. James M Fox
15. Tex...Clarence E. Mulford.
Published 170 titles, mostly mysteries and westerns, before going out of business in May 1957. The color graphics make this brand interesting to collectors.
GRAPHIC GIANTS. The first was numbered GlOl, the second skipped to G201, from there sequential numbering.
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This company was founded in October, 1949, by Lyle Kenyon Engel, but it never got far off the ground.
Engel stated he hoped to release sixteen titles a year, but there were only ten of these over-sized 15 cent paperbacks published. (Records show twelve titles were issued, collectors insist there were only ten.) The company ceased production in December after less than three months.
The biggest problem was the low price tag. The ten cent savings over Pocket Books failed to attract customers in sufficient numbers to make it profitable. Plus the larger size increased printing costs and cut profit margin.
Engel learned his lesson and went on to better things at Pyramid Books.
Most Checkerbooks have some interest for collectors. The first five were:
1. Terry and the Pirates: The Jewels of Jade...Edward Boylan, Jr.
2. The Broadway Butterfly Murders...Tip Bliss
3. Make Mine Murder...Robert Bowen
4. Lost River Buckaroos...Charles M. Martin
5. Horror and Homicide...(anthology)
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Only two titles published:
#1. The House of Creeping Horror...George F. Worts
#2. The Diamonds of Death...Borden Chase
From the start magazine and book publishers were competing forces in the paperback market. In 1949, book publisher William Jovanovich joined forces with Almat Magazine Publishers (named after the founders, Alfred Paline and Matthew Hunter) to enter the game with Pyramid Books.
At first, these books were undistinguished except as low-brow writing and (by the standards of the day) soft-core pornography.
The series started at number 11, and for good luck, skipped number 1 3.
11. The Passionate Virgin...Perry Lindsay
12. Reckless Passion...Gordon Sample
14. Blonde Mistress.. .Hall Bennett
15. Palm Beach Apartment...Gail Jordan
16. Set-up for Murder...Perter Cheyney
In the mid-fifties, after publishing executive Lyle Kenyon Engel came on board, the company found its stride with some higher-class works that have become classics, although the Pyramid reputation encouraged authors to hide behind pseudonyms.
C.G. Fickling, A Gun for Honey. This book about female private-eye Honey West became a best-seller and was the first of a series that led to a 1960's T.V. show.. ("G.G. Fickling" was pen-name for anonymous husband and wife team.). Intended as a female answer to Mike Hammer, the attractive investigator did little for Pyramid's literary reputation.
Peter Held (pen-name for Jack Vance), Take My Face.
Harlan Ellison, Rumble (G352) Author's first book.
Jordan Park, (pen-name for Cyril Kombluth) The Man of Cold Rages (G368).
Cornell Woolrich, Death is My Dancing Partner (G374). Author's next to last book.
Craig Rice, The Name of Malone (G350). Rice was Pyramid's best selling author.
Early in 1976, but long after other publishers had works-in-progress for the nation's bicentennial celebration, Pyramid executive Lyle Kenyon Engel asked hack-writer John Jakes to produce something special for them "within a month or so". The result, written and printed at incredible speed, was the Kent Family Saga, which spawned a whole new paperback genre---the multi-volume historical fiction series.
Pyramid Royals began in March 1956 with PR1O. It ceased with PR26.
Pyramid Books was sold in 1974 to Harcourt, Brace, (and Jovanovich, henceforth).
Name changed in 1977 to Jove Books.
1979, company sold to Putnam Group.
Fawcett Magazine Publishing Co., which had become the number one magazine publisher in America behind such titles as "True", "True Confessions" and "Mechanix Illustrated", was under contract to distribute the Signet and Mentor imprints of the New American Library. Because the NAL books were reprints, Fawcett thought it could establish its own paperback line without violating the non-compete agreement by issuing original titles. They tested the contract by issuing two books, each reprints of what had originally appeared in their magazines, but never in book form.
nn The Best from True
nn What Today's Woman Should Know About Marriage and Sex.
When these successfully slipped through the loop-hole in the contract, Fawcett announced its own line of paperbacks to be called GOLD MEDAL BOOKS. The numbering system began with
101. We Are the Public Enemies...Alan Hynd
102. Man Story...an anthology
103. The Persian Cat...John Flagg.
A howl of protest went up, not only from NAL, but also from self-appointed protectors of American literary tastes. Gold Medal, guided by editor William Lengel, hired a stable of authors to "pump out" quick and easy reads. Lengel came under heavy fire for printing "worthless" novels. Said critic Bernard DeVoto, "What Gold Medal has proved is we don't know how lousy novels can be."
A couple of the books that were among those singled out for the most criticism were: Tereska Torres' Women's Barracks, Gold Medal's first best-seller, whose cover deplicting Army women in various states of undress made it a favorite target for Congressional investigators in the 1950's scandals; and Kyle Onstott's Mandingo, a controversial depiction of interracial sex and sadism on a southern plantation, that~ in the so-called "plantation" or "historical romance" series.
Still, Gold Medal was able to establish its own stable of writers, much the way a magazine might have regular contributors, by offering authors an impressive $3,000 advance. And many of these "hack-writers", so criticized in their day, have become household names:
James D. MacDonald, Richard Prather, Charles Williams, Bruno Fischer, and Louis L'Amore
For this reason, it is said that Gold Medal created the first true paperback writers.
In its first year Gold Medal published six new authors, each of which is sought today: Sax Roehmer; Wade Miller; WeRe Burnett; MacKinley Kantor; and John D. MacDonald's first novel, The Brass Cupcake (#124). The next year it released original works by Bruno Fisher, Richard Prather, John Faulkner, Harry Whittington, David Goods, and three more titles by John D. MacDonald.
Also in 1951 Gold Medal began a series of True Crime Stories by Charles Boswell and Lewis Thompson called "The Girl...".
1952 saw new titles by such authors as Eric Hatch, H. Vernon Dixon, Kay Keene, Lester Dent, W. T. Ballard, Howard Hunt (who became famous in the Watergate scandals), Richard Matheson, and a strange experiment, John Millard's Mansion of Evil (#129) done in comic-book style.
Gold Medal's art director was Al Allard, who had worked for Fawcett since 1928. Most of the early Gold Medal covers were illustrated by Barye Phillips, whose talent lay in his ability to disguise his work in numerous styles.
When Fawcett's contract with New American Library ended, in 1952, it too entered the reprint business with several imprints.
RED SEAL, starting April, 1952 with #7. Ceased publishing a year later with #29.
7. The Sky Tramps...Dennison O'Hara
8. Each Life to Live...Richard Gehman
9. This Woman...Albert Idell
10. Naked in the Streets.. .Tyerson Johnson
11. Out of the Sea...Don Smith
Red Seal cover artists of note: Barye Philips and Carl Bobertz.
CREST BOOKS, from September 1955, #114.
114. Best Cartoons from True
115. Run, Thief, Run...Frank Gruber
116. Top Hand with a Gun...Harry Sinclair Drago
117. Stranger at the Door...Gil Meynier
118. Best from Captain Billy's Whizbang ...Lester Grady
Most Crest titles were reprints of hardbacks, but a few were original westerns and mysteries.
Crest by some accounts was used as a "lost leader". Its executives would make outlandish bids for reprint rights to authors and titles merely to generate publicity for the entire publishing house. In 1955, for example, Crest made headlines by offering over $100,000 for James Gould Cozzens' By Loved Possessed, which had no hope of recovering the investment through sales. Crest later went over the million dollar mark with Linda Goodman' s Love Signs.
PREMIER BOOKS. Started at # s12, September 1955. These were non-fiction works.
s12. The Power of Positive Living...Douglas Lutton
s13. How to Write and Speak Effective English. . Edward Frank Allen
s14. The Enjoyment of Love in Marriage. LeMon Clark
s15 Best Quotations for All Occasions...Lewis Henry
s16. The Art of Thinking...Ernest Dimnet
Fawcett purchased Popular Library in 1970, which it renamed Fawcett Books.
The U.S. Justice Department intervened in 1976 when CBS acquired Fawcett.
Although the bulk of Lion titles were reprints, the publisher, Martin Goodman (Select Publications), had started "Marvel Comics" and hoped to have a similar impact on the paperback book business by issuing a limited number of original titles by "weird" or "off-beat" authors who never before been published.
Following the pattern established at Marvel, Lion's editor-in-chief Arnold Hano would craft a plot outline and dispatch its bare bones to minor writers for meat.
Goodman finally made his lasting imprint on the history of paperback books when Lion found the butcher at book number 137:
Richard Matheson, Someone is Bleeding, (#137) Matheson' s first book and one of the more sought after by collectors. His second book, also a Lion publication, is also hunted:
Fury on Sunday (#180).
Other books and authors have contributed to Lion's reputation as an "off-beat" publisher.
Jim Thompson, Killer Inside Me (#99); Hell of a Woman (#218)
; Bad Boy (#149) Roughneck (#201). The books by David Goodis are also considered nice examples of Lion's better output.
RED CIRCLE BOOKS
Although the publisher's name is Lion Books, Inc., the first books it printed were called Red Circle Books. Numbers 1-7 were Red Circle, 8-11 were Lion. #12 and #13 were the last Red Circle books; number 14 reverted back to Lion.
1. Sex Life and You.. .Maxine Sawyer
2. Passionate Fool...John Moroso
3. Leg Artist.. Gene Harvey
4. Blonde Menace...Don Martin
5. Body or Soul...Royal Peters
8. Hungry Men...Edward Anderson
9. Anniversary...Ludwiq Lewisohn
10. Canyon Hell...Peter Dawson
11. The Blonde Body...Michael Morgan
14. The Lottery...Shirley Jackson
The series continued through number 233, when it died in 1955.
LION LIBRARY. Started July 1954 as an imprint separate from Red Circle and Lion, but to further confuse matters, Lion Library frequently reprinted Red Circle and Lion titles. Ceased April, 1957, at LL 175.
LL1. Number One...John Dos Passos
LL2. A Woman's Life.. Guy de Maupassant
LL3. The Sky Block...Steve Frazee
LL4. The Flesh Baron...P.J. Wolfson
LL5. The Sin and the Flesh.. .Lloyd S. Thompson
In 1957, New American Library purchased all the rights to the use of the Lion name and Lion's reprint rights. Lion books were then reissued under the Signet imprint.
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Issued four heavily condensed titles in true paperback format, 1950-1951.
3. Gina...George Albert Glay
7. Shoe the Wild Mare.. Gene Fowler
8. Green Light for Death...Frank Kane
11. Stranger than Fruit...Vera Saspary
12. Nightmare...William Irish.
The other numbers are digest-sized.
It is not clear when they stopped publishing, but there were no issues after 1954.
The story of this effort by pulp magazine publisher Aaron (A.A.) Wyn is simply wierd. Wyn himself was a strange character, half sharp businessman, half western cowboy. He had entered the pulp magazine business in the early thirties after a career as an Idaho school teacher, Oregon cowboy, and Nevada outlaw, if we are to believe the legends he encouraged. His whole family was in the business with him, including a nephew who was in an insane asylum. More about him later.
Wyn knew he was entering the paperback market late, at a time it was at or near saturation, so he and partner Donald Wollheim sought some novelty to make their books stand out. They hit upon the idea of the "double novel", two stories in one binding, with one upside down and starting from the back so each could have its own cover illustration. They would charge only an extra dime for the second story. To enhance the books' appeal with a wider audience, one would be an original novel, the other a well-known reprint.
The gimmick worked. Today Ace Doubles are among the most collectible and sought after paperbacks.
The first five Ace books were:
D-1. The Ginning Gismo...Samuel Taylor
Too Hot for Hell...Keith Vining
D-2. Bloody Hoofs...J. Edward Leithead
Bad Man's Return.. .William Colt MacDonald
D-3. Twist the Knife Slowly...Mel Colton
The Big Fix...Mel Colton
D-4. Massacre at White River...Lewis B. Patten
Rimrock Rider...Walker A. Thompson
D-5. The Scarlet Spade...Eaton K. Goldthwaite
Drawn to Evil...Harry Whittington
That the titles tended to suggest blood and evil was no accident. Wyn had a sixth sense about how to get the public's attention. Harry Whittington was known in the industry as "King of the Paperbacks" for his incredibly prolific output of original novels---nearly one every two weeks---for various paperback publishers.
One of the most important and valuable paperbacks in the collector market today is an Ace Double book: (D15), Narcotic Agent, Maurice Heibrent and Junkie William Lee. William Lee is the pen-name for William Burroughs and Junkie was his first book.
How this particular double book came to be printed gets us back to that insane nephew of owner A.A. Wyn.
Carl Soloman inherited his uncle's penchant for the odd and socially alarming, so he drifted naturally toward the European Dada art movement. While a student at Brookly College, he decorated the walls of the school cafeteria with fresh peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the finest Dada tradition. Unfortunately, he had not first asked permission, and horrified school officials filed vandalism charges and had him hauled off to the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
While there, he impressed everyone rather unfavorably with his Dada poetry and bohemian desires. One fellow patient, however, fell in love with him. Allen Ginsburg had been sent to the mental hospital after he pled insanity to avoid jail for a series of crimes resulting from a joy ride with a group of hoodlums. ("Just wanted to see how hoodlums lived," he claimed, "so I could write about them.")
While in the hospital, Ginsburg composed several love songs and tributes to his best friend, including his masterwork, "Howl (for Carl Solomon)".
When Solomon was released, he went to work for his uncle at Ace Books as a literary agent. The only writer he knew personally was Ginsburg, and Ginsburg had become part of a literary circle formed at Columbia University that included Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Ginsburg gladly delivered their unpublished manuscripts and poetry to Solomon.
The first published was William Burrough's Junkie. Solomon wrote a "warning to the reader" to preface the book in which he described Burroughs as "an unrepentant, unredeemed drug addict." Burroughs accepted the attachment to his work, but suggested the pseudonym of "William Lee" to avoid embarrasing his family. Solomon also approved a cover illustration of a man wrestling a heroin needle from the hand of a beautiful blonde---a cover that many people thought offensive to American values and was soon discussed in the halls of Congress as an example for the need for censorship.
Solomon next turned to Kerouac's On the Road, but when he made several suggestions for improving the work, he learned Kerouac was not as open to advice as Burroughs. In fact, with Kerouac physically threatening the bespectacled Solomon, the arguments between the two men became so famous in New York publishing circles that bets were made on whether Solomon would get the book or the beating first.
For a few years, though, Solomon had made Ace the publishing home for America's Beat Generation, giving a wide audience to the bohemians populating Greenwich Village. Other "beatniks" Solomon published included Alan Ansen, Neal Cassady, and Jean Genet.
Unfortunately, Solomon was too unstable mentally to endure the pressure of fame in New York and had several breakdowns, was declared insane, and returned to the hospital. Ginsburg, Kerouac and gang headed west to San Francisco and City Lights Publishing.
The Beats had given Ace Paperbacks a reputation (whether good or bad) that placed it above the other paperback publishers of "trash" (although, again, some would say the Beats produced the worse sort of trash.) But with his nephew insane and the Beats in San Francisco, A.A. Wyn concluded the Beats were a passing interest for the American people and concentrated on making Ace the leader in Science Fiction works.
Other important original titles from Ace:
Harlan Ellison, The Deadly Streets (D312); The Juvies (D513).
Ellison had moved to Ace after hitting it big with the "lower-class" Pyramid Publisher.
John Jakes got his start here. But he jumped to Pyramid.
Michael Avallone is another whose Ace books were among his first efforts.
In 1954, Ace issued its first "single", Carl Oftord's Naked Fear (S54).
The cover art of Norm Saunders helped give Ace its particular "look".
Picking up on what other publishers seem to have ignored, that the first paperback to hit the New York Times best-seller list had been Pocket's Wuthering Heights, Ace contracted with Phyllis A Whitney to do a series of gothic romances. Her first, Thunder Heights (1960), was not only successful, but renewed interest in the field.
Unfortunately, Ace got squeezed out by the very forces it helped to create as it lost readers to the "sweeter" Harlequin and "harsher" Avon gothic romances.
We have already discussed the introduction by Ace of works by the New York beatniks to a nation-wide audience, and the importance of Ace's Science Fiction.
In 1976, Ace was purchased by Grosset-Dunlap.
By 1952, Ian Ballantine, who had been the original partner in American Penguin and later in Bantam Books, started his own line (with his wife Betty) that he named after himself.
To make Ballantine Books unique on the market he hoped to persuade several hardback publishers to allow him to release the "reprint" paperback simultaneously with the release of the hardback. His primary argument was that the combined sales of the two versions would push the title onto the best-seller lists and thus increase sales of both. Publishers Houghton-Mifflin and Farrar, Strauss agreed to give the experiment a chance.
The first titles, "original reprints", were:
1. Executive Suite...Cameron Hawley
2. Saddle by Starlight..1Luke Short
3. Golden Spike.. Hal Ellson
4. All My Enemies...Stanley Baron
5. The Witch's Thorn...Ruth Park
Although it has now become rather common practice, initially the trick was not always successful and Ballantine struggled for years.
In 1973, following the sale of the company to Random House, the Ballantines were fired and replaced by another husband and wife team, Lester and Judy-Lyn Del Ray, who turned Ballantine books toward Science Fiction with the DEL RAY imprint. Ian Ballantine returned in 1981 as a special consultant.
Science Fiction covers illustrated by Richard Powers are noteworthy.
Another early Ballantine of interest is #10, Concannon because it was issued with a dust jacket (a marketing ploy Ian had introduced at Bantam) illustrated by Robert Maquire.
Behind a massive publicity campaign, Doubleday Book Publishers launched what has come to be known as the first trade paperbacks, books aimed at particular professions or trades. The idea of 23-year old editor Jason Epstein, it was actually inspired by the success Dover Books was having with its reprints of scientific and technical treatises.
The first six Anchor books, priced between 85cents and $1.25, were:
American Humor.. Constance Rourke
Studies in Classic American Literature...D,H. Lawrence
The Idea of a Theater.. Francis Fergusson
An Essay on Man...Ernest Cassirer
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult...Joseph Bedier
Charterhouse of Parma...Stendhal
In the 1930's Modern Age Books had failed in their similar effort with so-called "high-brow" titles but the America of 1953 was quite different. For one thing, led by thousands of young men attending college on the G.J. Bill, college enrollments were booming. For another, the on-going Congressional hearings into the "sleaze" or "smut" factor had lowered the esteem of paperbacks even further. The introduction of "intellectual" reading matter was welcomed as a needed change.
The immediate success of Anchor Books revolutionized the paperback business, spawning numerous imitators (most of which, lacking financial backing, failed.) College presses, which had been loathe to produce books in the paperback format, now had that stigma removed and by the late 5O's virtually all college presses had a paperback list. (Harvard and Princeton were among the few hold-outs that still considered paperbacks beneath their dignity; they sold the paperback reprint rights to Atheneum, a textbook publisher with a paperback line.
Doubleday, wanting a share of the paperback market, thought in 1948 it might make inroads with a hardback book in the paperback format. They called it the Permabook. It misfired from the beginning.
In 1951, Permabooks switched to a paper-cover more stiff and durable than those of most paperbacks.
The binding influenced editorial decisions. There was no sense publishing a durable book that no one had reason to keep, so the first titles were Best-Loved Poems, How to Write Letters, Best Quotations for All Occasions and other reference-style works.
The numbering sequence: P1-P92, hardbacks; there was no P93; P94-P97, hardbacks; P98, paper; P99-PlOl, hard; P102 on were all paperback. Plus, PS, P7, P25, P65, P89 were re-issued as paperback without being re-numbered. In 1954, the company was purchased by Pocket Books, which began numbering Permabooks with M1OOO, skipped to M1600, skipped for the third title to M2001, skipped yet again to M3002 for the fourth title, and then numbered sequentially until M5014, when it jumped to M7500.
PERMA STAR and PERMA SPECIAL began in 1952. The latter were higher quality paper books that sold for 50 cents.
Under these imprints are original works by Richard Stark (pen-name for Donald Westlake) and Ed McBain (pen-name for Evan Hunter).
Founded by Doubleday Publishing, Permabooks was sold in 1954 to Pocket Books, which continued the line as an imprint.
Harlequin was a Canadian publisher that managed to establish a market in the United States despite opposition from the U.S. Justice Department. To infiltrate the United States market, Harlequin signed an agreement with Pocket Books to use its distribution system.
Initially, it published a full line of novels, from mysteries to westerns, until 1964 when it decided to concentrate on its best-selling romances.
Harlequin became a major player shortly after hiring W. Lawrence Heisey, a former executive at Proctor & Gamble, to run the show. He believed, contrary to expert opinions, that the brand name was more important than the author' s name. He urged writers to accept pseudonyms and made "Harlequin" became the dominant word on the cover. (This encouraged well-known writers to submit works to Harlequin that they might not want to be associated with in the public mind. Identifying these "better known" authors has become quite a game.)
Heisey also introduced coded cover artwork that told the potential buyer what degree of "explicitness" to expect from the book's contents.
"Comic books without pictures" is how some have mocked Harlequin, but there is no mocking their sales figures. By 1979 Harlequin was selling over $70,000,000 worth of books and had cornered 10% of the entire paperback market.
When its agreement with Pocket Books expired, Harlequin opened its own distribution system and Pocket Books started the rival Silhouette imprint.
Perhaps because the emphasis was on the name "Harlequin, the company was slow to introduce imprints, but two were begun in 1978.
MYSTIQUE. Gothic romances.
RAVEN HOUSE. Mysteries.
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The product of Universal Publishing and Distribution out of New York, Beacon Books were soft-core, low-class pornography.
Perhaps it's claim to fame rested with an in-house author named Orrie Hitt. A family man from rural Wisconsin, he would sit at his kitchen table with an old Remington typewriter and, working sixteen hour days, single-handedly produce a novel every two weeks. After the demise of Beacon, Hitt continued to produce novels for several other paperback houses. Nearly as prolific as the "King of Paperbacks" Worthington, Hitt's books are generally considered inferior writing.
#101. She Got What She Wanted...Orrie Hitt
#102. Pawn...Fran Nichols
#103. Rooming House...Fred Malloy
#104. Shabby Street...Orrie Hitt
#105. King of Kyber Rifles...Talbot Mundi
Charles Byrne was Avon's editor-in-chief and Frederic Klein its vice president when they decided to leave to start their business. Chic News Company published pocket-sized magazines and digests until 1955 when financial problems forced Byrne and Kline to try, in desperation, to compete with their former boss. Changing its name to Berkley Publishing Corporation, they dropped the magazine format in favor of the paperback style.
Their first issues:
101. The Pleasures of the Jazz Age...William Hodapp
102. Loveliest of Friends...G. Sheila Donisthorpe
103. S.S. San Pedro.. .James Gould Cozzens
104. Fever Pitch...Frank Waters
105. Death of an Ad Man...James Burke and Ed Grace
The first few months saw shifting numbering systems:
#101-112, published March and April 1955;
#313-386, published from May 1955 to February 1959;
After sputtering, they found a niche for themselves with Science Fiction/Fantasy books.
IMPRINTSBERKLEY GIANTS. From 1955, starting at Gi.
BERKLEY DIAMONDS. Started with D2001 August 1959.
1965, Berkley Books was purchased by G.P. Putnam and used as its paperback arm.
Berkley and Putnam was purchased by MCA in 1975. In 1979, Putnam purchased Jove Books and blurred the differences between Jove and Berkley, sometimes referred to as "sister" paperback lines.
In 1982, Putnam added to its stable Ace Books, Tempo Books, and Playboy Press Books. Many of the last were reissued as Berkley.
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Out of Derby, Connecticut, Monarch books were described as "classically erotic literature"b This fact, plus the companyb's short life span, make these collectable books.
First book was #101, October 1958.
101. Dark Hunger...Don James
102. Winter Range...Alan LeMay
103. Love Me Now.. Fan Nichols
104. Rawhider from Texas...Dean Owen
105. Shadow of the Mafia...Louis Malley
There were also three books numbered K50-K52.
Monarch went out of business in 1965.
HUMAN BEHAVIOR SERIES started at MB5O1, July 1959.
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First title # ZB-1, appeared July 1958. About 50 titles were issued before Zenith went out-of business.
ZB-1 The Sisters...Charles Jackson
ZB-2 All Over Town...George Milburn
ZB-3 Johnny Purple..John Wyllie
ZB-4 Die Screaming...Jo Pagano
ZB-5 The Best Cartoons from "Argosy"
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Published by the Guinn Company, best known for its elementary textbook readers, this started and ended as an award winning digest-sized science fiction magazine. In 1958, four paperbacks were produced (#32-35).
32. Address: Centauri...F.L. Wallace
33. Mission of Gravity...Hal Clement
34. Twice in Time...Manley Wade Weliman
35. The Forever Machine...Clifton and Riley
(NOTE: There is another line of paperbacks named Galaxy published by England's Oxford University Press.)
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1 961 ---MACFADDEN-BARTELL
For the history of MacFadden Publications, see Bart House.
This second attempt to produce- paperbacks was more successful. By 1964, there were over 325 titles and two imprints, Pyramid and Charter.
The emphasis was on political books. Although the publishers claimed to be impartial, the majority of works were conservative Republicanism. Several books on Barry Goldwater.
In addition there were educational self-help books.
My Years with General Motors by Alfred Sloan is a book of some note.