Sunday, July 3, 2022

Paperbacks, U.S. A.

 Paperbacks, U.S.A. (1981) by Piet Schreuders

A fairly comprehensive book on the classic years of paperback publishing (roughly 1940-1960). The emphasis is on how the books looked and so it focused most especially on the covers and artists. We get details on how the earliest paperbacks looked and a history of the "look" of each of the big publishing houses (Pocket Books, Dell, Avon, Penguin, and Bantam) as well as brief looks at some of the smaller publishers. We get the most information about Pocket Books--detailing the changes to Gertrude the Kangaroo as well as the overall look of the front cover. Schreuders did a very good job considering that this is one of the first books focused on the paperback industry and, I believe, the very first one to feature the covers and artistry involved.

I selected this book for two challenges I'm doing--both had categories that asked to pick books that we thought would produce joy. Well, one of the reasons I bought Paperback, U.S.A. was because I love vintage paperbacks--especially those Dell Mapbacks and similarly-sized books (Pocket Books, Bantam, Avon, Popular Libary, etc). And this book did produce joy, though not quite as much as anticipated. I wish more of the pictures had been in color (yes, I know color is more expensive), that the black & white covers had been a little larger (and that portions hadn't been cut off), and that there had been a better representation of some of the smaller publishing houses. Some of them weren't even pictured--Perma Books, Green Dragon, and Black Knight, just to mention a few. But, I do realize that this book came out early in the collecting phase of paperbacks, so perhaps editions just weren't readily available to him I do appreciate the great amount of research he did and, overall, this is a great book for those of us who love the older paperbacks. It's definitely a volume I will consult regularly as I expand my own collection. ★★

First lines: The "paperback" is not just a book which for one of many possible reasons, has been published in a soft cover instead of a hard one. It is rather a type of book which for the purpose of creating a mass audience for books, has been designed for the cheapest possible production and in a format most handy for mass display and reading comfort.

Last line: After all, if you ever do get "all of them," then what's left to collect?

No comments: