Fans of science fiction owe a great debt of gratitude to Ace Books. This pioneering publisher helped shape the genre by promoting influential authors and numerous important titles during the 1950s and 1960s.
Ace Books was founded in New York by Aaron Wyn in 1952. The company began as a publisher of mysteries and western novels but quickly branched into science fiction, where it would find great success, including multiple wins at the Hugo and Nebula awards. Ace helped to launch the careers of several noted authors and published the debut novels of Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin and R.A. Lafferty.
One of Ace’s biggest coups was the Ace Doubles series. These paperbacks contained two different novels that were bound together in the dos-a-dos style. Their strategy was to pair a famous writer with a lesser known one and constantly introduce readers to new literary talent. While Ace did not invent this concept, they did popularize it, and it became a fantastic marketing tool that benefited both the publisher and readers for many years. Ace published several hundred Ace Doubles in the dos-a-dos format between 1952 and 1973, and many science fiction fans have built collections around these eye-catching paperbacks.
Ace Books was acquired in 1972 by Grosset & Dunlap, who were in turn bought by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1982. As a subsidiary of Grosset & Dunlap, Ace became a science fiction imprint and continued to find success with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Wild Shore, Lucius Shepard’s Green Eyes, and Michael Swanwick’s In the Drift all in 1984 alone. Today Ace Books is an imprint of Penguin and once again acts as the science fiction arm for a larger company.