The Great American Paperback
AbeBooks Member Since 1996
AbeBooks Member Since 1996
About this Item
Title: The Great American Paperback
Publisher: Collectors Press, Portland, OR
Publication Date: 2001
Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included
Edition: 1st Edition.
About this title
Chronicles the growth of the paperback industry from its 19th century forerummers to its glory days of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.Review:
Penzler Pick, October 2001: There may be some irony in the notion that a book devoted to paperbacks (the most inexpensive book format--small, easily transportable and disposable) is a huge, expensive, beautifully produced hardcover volume that is certain to be a gem in any collector's library.
For several centuries books in America customarily were pages bound between hardcovers and, in this century, had dust jackets wrapped around them, initially just to protect the cloth covers, but eventually as an attention-grabbing advertising poster.
In 1938, an experiment was launched. The cloth cover was exchanged for a paper one, and the colorful illustration and information that appeared on the dust jacket (author, title, publisher, a few lines about the book) was printed directly onto those paper covers. Cheaper paper was used, since these artifacts were no longer expected to form part of a permanent library, but were to be as disposable as a newspaper or magazine. And they were cheap: a 25-cent price made books affordable for a huge portion of the population. They became immeasurably successful almost overnight.
Today many of those books are highly sought-after collectors' items. In spite of the huge numbers printed, they are scarce now simply because almost no one ever thought to save them in colorful, pristine condition. The Great American Paperback illustrates in glorious full color more than 600 of the most interesting and collectable paperbacks, each with an informative caption that provides as much fascinating anecdotal information as the text, which is a masterly and scholarly history of the American paperback, tracing its roots to the early 19th century and concluding with a look at the future.
There are samples of the paperback originals of Ed McBain, Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, Harlan Ellison, and James M. Cain, as well as illustrations of such rarities as The Maltese Falcon, which was issued as a paperback with a dust jacket, and Ellery Queen's Halfway House, which was offered in two formats by the publisher, one bound the usual way, the other bound at the top edge.
If this massive work hadn't been produced in Hong Kong, it would have cost twice as much and is, believe it or not, a bargain, even at a price as hefty as the book itself. --Otto Penzler
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