Friday, January 25, 2013
Forgotten Books: Paperbacks, U.S.A.
This one brings back a lot of memories. At the time it was published in 1981, I had known Lance Casebeer, the "King of Paperbacks," for two or three years, become a regular attendee of the backyard paperbackalooza called LanceCon, and - because I lived nearby, dropped in at many another time to marvel at his basement-to-second story collection of every paperback book published in American between 1939 and 1959 (and beyond).
Paperbacks, U.S.A. (the U.S. title) was also published - at almost the same time - in Britain as The Book of Paperbacks. I have both editions, and everything inside the covers (including the endpapers) is identical.
It begins with a history of the paperback, paying special attention to the major vintage houses of Pocket Books, Avon, Penguin, Popular Library, Dell, Bantam and Signet.There's a lengthy section on cover art, including details on how it was produced and interviews with the artists. There's a year-by-year chronology listing milestones in the industry, and putting them in context with the "real" world.
And there's more: An overview of every U.S. publisher and imprint of the period, lists of the first hundred books issued by each major publisher, and a thirty-page encyclopedia detailing who was who in producing cover art.
If you're at all intrigued with vintage paperbacks, or the history of book publishing in America, you can't go wrong with this one.
Bill Crider collectors take note! You'll want this, too, because his name appears twice - in the Index and in the Bibliography.
This week's links to Forgotten Books appear at SWEET FREEDOM. Next week you'll find them right here on the Almanack.