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The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi. New York/Toronto. 1944. Rinehart & Company. 305 pages.


great transformation rinehart and company 1944 no dwFROM THE PUBLISHER -


    The Great Transformation is a book by Karl Polanyi, an Austro-Hungarian political economist. First published in 1944, it deals with the social and political upheavals that took place in England during the rise of the market economy. Polanyi contends that the modern market economy and the modern nation-state should be understood not as discrete elements, but as the single human invention he calls the Market Society. Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inexorably linked in history. His reasoning for this was that the powerful modern state was needed to push changes in social structure that allowed for a competitive capitalist economy, and that a capitalist economy required a strong state to mitigate its harsher effects. For Polanyi, these changes implied the destruction of the basic social order that had existed throughout all earlier history, which is why he emphasized the greatness of the transformation. His empirical case in large part relied upon analysis of the Speenhamland laws, which he saw not only as the last attempt of the squirearchy to preserve the traditional system of production and social order, but also a self-defensive measure on the part of society that mitigated the disruption of the most violent period of economic change. The book also presented his belief that market society is unsustainable because it is fatally destructive to the human and natural contexts it inhabits. Polanyi turns the tables on the orthodox liberal account of the rise of capitalism by arguing that ‘laissez-faire was planned’, whereas social protectionism was a spontaneous reaction to the social dislocation imposed by an unrestrained free market. He argues that the construction of a ‘self-regulating’ market necessitates the separation of society into economic and political realms. Polanyi does not deny that the self-regulating market has brought ‘unheard of material wealth’ , however he suggests that this is too narrow a focus. The market, once it considers land, labor and money as ‘fictitious commodities’ (fictitious because each possesses qualities that are not expressed in the formal rationality of the market) ‘subordinate[s] the substance of society itself to the laws of the market.’ This, he argues, results in massive social dislocation, and spontaneous moves by society to protect itself. In effect, Polanyi argues that once the free market attempts to separate itself from the fabric of society, social protectionism is society’s natural response; this he calls the ‘double movement’. Polanyi did not see economics as a subject closed off from other fields of enquiry, indeed he saw economic and social problems as inherently linked. He ended his work with a prediction of a socialist society, noting, ‘after a century of blind 'improvement', man is restoring his 'habitation.’


Polanyi KarlKarl Paul Polanyi (born October 25, 1886, Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire – April 23, 1964, Pickering, Ontario) was a Hungarian-American economic historian, economic anthropologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. He is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and for his book, The Great Transformation. Polanyi is remembered today as the originator of substantivism, a cultural approach to economics, which emphasized the way economies are embedded in society and culture. This view ran counter to mainstream economics but was popular in anthropology, economic history, economic sociology and political science. Polanyi's approach to the ancient economies has been applied to a variety of cases, such as Pre-Columbian America and ancient Mesopotamia, although its utility to the study of ancient societies in general has been questioned. Polanyi's The Great Transformation became a model for historical sociology. His theories eventually became the foundation for the economic democracy movement. His daughter Kari Polanyi Levitt is Emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University, Montreal.





Sciascia, Leonardo. Mafia Vendetta. New York. 1964. Knopf.  Translated from the Italian by Archibald Colquhoun. 122 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Leigh Taylor.  


mafia vendetta knopf 1964FROM THE PUBLISHER -


IN THE FORM of a swift-moving detective novel, this book presents a well-informed and revealing ‘documentary’ on the secret machinations of that notorious organization called the Mafia. The novel opens with a routine police inquiry into the shooting of an insignificant building contractor. As the investigation progresses, it becomes apparent that mysterious and influential forces are at work to suppress all evidence of the crime and to prevent its just solution. Nonetheless, under the direction of an idealistic young police officer the search for the criminals continues-a search that leads from the scene of the murder, a small Italian village, to the foothills of Sicily, and ultimately to the highest government offices in Rome. On its publication in Italy, MAFIA VENDETTA provoked a public outcry and caused no little embarrassment in government circles, American readers will appreciate the vigorous realism and rapid pace of the novel, and readily understand why this fictional expose ‘hit home.’ . Leonardo Sciascia was born at Racalmuto, in the province of Agrigento (Sicily), in 1921. His work as a writer reflects his concern with the problems, social and economic, which face the people of southern Italy. In 1956 the Italian publisher Laterza brought out his PARISHES OF REGALPETRA, an account of the history and life of a rural region of Sicily. His Patriarchs of Sicily, published in 1958, is a collection of tales depicting the social and spiritual plight of the island. In 1961 he wrote a study on Pirandello and Sicily. MAFIA VENDETTA, his best-known work, was awarded the Crotone Prize in 1962.


Sciascia LeonardoLeonardo Sciascia (January 8, 1921 – November 20, 1989) was an Italian writer, novelist, essayist, playwright and politician. Some of his works have been made into films, including Open Doors (1990) and Il giorno della civetta (1968). Sciascia was born in Racalmuto, Sicily. In 1935 his family moved to Caltanissetta; here Sciascia studied under Vitaliano Brancati, who would become his model in writing and introduce him to French novelists. From Giuseppe Granata, future Communist member of the Italian Senate, he learned about the French Enlightenment and American literature. In 1944 he married Maria Andronico, an elementary school teacher in Racalmuto. In 1948 his brother committed suicide, an event which had a profound impact on Sciascia. Sciascia's first work, Favole della dittatura (“Fables of the Dictatorship”), a satire on fascism, was published in 1950 and included 27 short poems. This was followed in 1952 by La Sicilia, il suo cuore, also a poetry collection, illustrated by Emilio Greco. The following year Sciascia won the Premio Pirandello, awarded by the Sicily region, for his essay 'Pirandello e il pirandellismo.' In 1954 he began collaborating with literature and ethnology magazines published by Salvatore Sciascia in Caltanissetta. In 1956 he published Le parrocchie di Regalpetra, an autobiographic novel inspired by his experience as an elementary school teacher in his home town. In the same year he moved to teach in Caltanissetta, only to move again to Rome in 1957. In the autumn of that year he published Gli zii di Sicilia, including sharp views about themes such as the influence of the US and of communism in the world, and the 19th century unification of Italy. After one year in Rome, Sciascia moved back to Caltanissetta, in Sicily. In 1961 he published the mystery Il giorno della civetta (The Day of the Owl), one of his most famous novels, and in 1963, the historical novel Il consiglio d'Egitto (The Council of Egypt), set in 18th-century Palermo. After a series of essays, in 1965 he wrote the play L'onorevole (The Honorable), a denunciation of the complicities between government and mafia. Another political mystery novel is 1966's A ciascuno il suo (To Each His Own). The following year Sciascia moved to Palermo. In 1969 he began a collaboration with Il Corriere della Sera. That same year he published the play Recitazione della controversia liparitana dedicata ad A.D., dedicated to Alexander Dubcek. In 1971 Sciascia returned again to mystery with Il contesto (The Challenge), which inspired Francesco Rosi's movie Cadaveri eccellenti (1976). The novel created polemics due to its merciless portrait of Italian politics. Same was the fate of Todo modo, in this case due to its description of Italian Catholic clergy. At the 1975 communal elections in Palermo, Sciascia ran as an independent within the Italian Communist Party (PCI) slate, and was elected to the city council. In the same year he published La scomparsa di Majorana, dealing with the mysterious disappearance of scientist Ettore Majorana. In 1977 he resigned from PCI, due to his opposition to any dealing with the Christian Democratic party. Later he would be elected to the Italian and European Parliament with the Radical Party. Sciascia last works include the essay collection Cronachette (1985), the novels Porte aperte (1987) and Il cavaliere e la morte (1988). He died in June 1989 at Palermo. A number of his books, such as The Day of the Owl (Il giorno della civetta) and Equal Danger (Il contesto), demonstrate how the Mafia manages to sustain itself in the face of the anomie inherent in Sicilian life. He presented a forensic analysis of the kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro, a prominent Christian Democrat, in his book The Moro Affair. Sciascia's work is intricate and displays a longing for justice while attempting to show how corrupt Italian society had become and remains. His linking of politicians, intrigue, and the Mafia gave him a high profile, which was very much at odds with his private self. This high profile resulted in his becoming widely disliked for his criticism of Giulio Andreotti, then Prime Minister, for his lack of action towards freeing Moro and answering the demands of the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades). Sciascia was part of a House of Deputies investigation into Moro's kidnapping, which concluded that there was a certain amount of negligence on the part of the Christian Democrat Party in their stance that the state was bigger than a person and that they would not swap Moro for 13 political prisoners, even though Moro himself had stated that the swapping of innocent people for political prisoners was a valid option in negotiations with terrorists. However, senior members of the party conveniently forgot this stance and even went as far as to say that Moro had been drugged and tortured to utter these words. Sciascia's books are rarely characterized by a happy end and by justice for the ordinary man. Prime examples of this are Equal Danger, in which the police's best detective is drafted to Sicily to investigate a spate of murders of judges. Focusing on the inability of authorities to handle such investigation into the corruptions, Sciascia's hero is finally thwarted. Sciascia wrote of his unique Sicilian experience, linking families with political parties, the treachery of alliances and allegiances and the calling of favors that result in outcomes that are not for the benefit of society, but of those individuals who are in favor. His 1984 opus Occhio di Capra is a collection of Sicilian sayings and proverbs gathered from the area around his native village, to which he was intensely attached throughout his life.





Horne, Gerald. The Rise and Fall Of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett's Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox. Urbana. 2017. University of Illinois Press. 9780252082733. 6.125 x 9.25 inches. 16 BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS. 272 pages. paperback.  


9780252082733FROM THE PUBLISHER - 


 “A brilliant model for writing black transnational history and for appreciating the contradictory results of desegregation for mid- twentieth century African American media, black freedom, and Pan-Africanism.” —Erik S. McDuffie, author of Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism. For more than fifty years, the Chicago-based Associated Negro Press (ANP) fought racism at home and grew into an international news organization abroad. At its head stood founder Claude Barnett, one of the most influential African Americans of his day and a gifted, if unofficial, diplomat who forged links with figures as diverse as Jawaharlal Nehru, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Nixon. Gerald Horne weaves Barnett’s fascinating life story through a groundbreaking history of the ANP, including its deep dedication to Pan-Africanism. An activist force in journalism, Horne Gerald Barnett also helped send doctors and teachers to Africa, advised African governments, gave priority to foreign newsgathering, and saw the African American struggle in global terms. Yet Horne also confronts Barnett’s contradictions. A member of the African American elite, Barnett’s sympathies with black aspirations often clashed with his ethics and a powerful desire to join the upper echelons of business and government. In the end, Barnett’s activist success undid his work. Horne traces the dramatic story of the ANP’s collapse as the mainstream press, retreating from Jim Crow, finally covered black issues and hired African American journalists.


Gerald Horne is the John J. And Rebecca Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His many books include Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle. He is a recipient of the Ida B. Wells and Cheikh Anta Diop Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Leadership in Africana Studies.






 Articles and Bibliographies


                  Avon Bard Latin American Literature titles   


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        The Avon Bard Latin American Literature series


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         New American Library's Signet Classics



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                     A Signet Classics listing

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Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin. Boston. 1955. Beacon Press. 175 pages. hardcover.


notes of a native son beacon press 1955 no dwFROM THE PUBLISHER - 


NOTES OF A NATIVE SON is a non-fiction book by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first non-fiction book, and was published in 1955. The volume collects ten of Baldwin's essays, which had previously appeared in such magazines as Harper's Magazine, Partisan Review, and The New Leader. The essays mostly tackle issues of race in America and Europe. Since its original publication in 1955, this first nonfiction collection of essays by James Baldwin remains an American classic. His impassioned essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. ‘A straight-from-the-shoulder writer, writing about the troubled problems of this troubled earth with an illuminating intensity.’ - Langston Hughes, The New York Times Book Review. ‘Written with bitter clarity and uncommon grace.’ – Time.


Baldwin JamesJAMES BALDWIN was born in New York City on August 2, 1924. He was the first of nine children and grew up in Harlem where his father was a minister. For six years, after his graduation from high school in 1942, he found work in a variety of minor jobs. When he was twenty-four he left for Europe and lived there almost ten years. During this time, he wrote his first three books: GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, NOTES OF A NATIVE SON, and GIOVANNI’S ROOM. They firmly established him as one of America’s outstanding young writers. In 1937, he returned to New York. , where he lived when not on one of his frequent trips abroad. In 1961, Mr. Baldwin’s fourth book, the collection of brilliant essays entitled NOBODY KNOWS MY NAME, brought him broad public recognition as well as distinguished critical attention. Perhaps the most meaningful book ever to discuss being Negro in America, NOBODY KNOWS MY NAME was the recipient of numerous awards and a devoted following. The following year brought similar acclaim for his best-selling novel, ANOTHER COUNTRY. In 1963, the prophetic THE FIRE NEXT TIME jolted both the critical world and the bookbuying public. Instantly acclaimed, as Granville Hick said, as ‘a great document of our times, in literary power as well as in strength of feeling and clarity of insight,’ the book rushed to the top of all the best-seller lists. James Baldwin is also the author of three plays. The first, THE AMEN CORNER, was originally produced at Howard University. It had a long and successful run in Los Angeles, later opened on Broadway in 1965, and, as GOING TO MEET THE MAN was published, another production toured the world under the auspices of the State Department. A dramatization of GIOVANNI’S ROOM was staged by the Actor’s Studio workshop. In 1964, his BLUES FOR MR. CHARLEY opened off Broadway and was published simultaneously in book form. Like THE AMEN CORNER, it has been produced throughout this country and Europe.





Black Fauns by Alfred Mendes. London. 1935. Duckworth. 328 pages. hardcover.


black faunsFROM THE PUBLISHER - 


ALFRED MENDES was born in Trinidad in 1897. Mendes’ creative writing belongs to ‘The Beacon’ period of Caribbean literature, which launched the early novels of the English-speaking Caribbean in the 1920s and 1930s. His first novel PITCH LAKE was published in 1934 and his second BLACK FAUNS followed a year later. In the capital of a Caribbean island, the BLACK FAUNS - Mamitz, Martha, Estelle, Christophine, Ma Christine, Miriam and Ethelrida - wash clothes for a living in the intimacy of their barrack yard. It is the 1930s. In two facing rows of rooms, each room a habitation, and separated by the expanse of communal yard, the women are quarrelsome, supportive and reflective, tender and fierce with one another. Memories and bitterness are green. Ma Christine with her obeah and speechifying about her dead husband; Miriam, the objective level-headed philosopher voraciously learned in her insights of the world; Etheirida, bristling with fire; Mamitz, secret but smart and ruthless in her determination to survive; and Martha, in fear of her shadow concealing deep springs of passion and love. It is Martha’s love affairs, first with Estelle, and then with Snakey, Ma Christine’s son, which finally lead to murder and the destruction of the yard community.






Mendes AlfredAlfred Hubert Mendes (18 November 1897-1991), novelist and short-story writer, was a leading member of the 1930s ‘Beacon group’ of writers (named after the literary magazine The Beacon) in Trinidad that included Albert Gomes, C. L. R. James and Ralph de Boissière. Mendes is best known as the author of two novels - PITCH LAKE (1934) and BLACK FAUNS (1935) - and for his short stories written during the 1920s and 1930s. He was ‘one of the first West Indian writers to set the pattern of emigration in the face of the lack of publishing houses and the small reading public in the West Indies.’ Born in Trinidad the eldest of six children in a Portuguese Creole family, Mendes was educated in Port of Spain until 1912, then at the age of 15 went to continue his studies in the United Kingdom. His hopes of going on to university there were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. After briefly returning to Trinidad in 1915, against his father’s wishes he joined the Merchants' Contingents of Trinidad - whose purpose was to enroll and transport to England young men who wished to serve in the war ‘for King and Country’ - and sailed back to Britain. He served in the 1st Rifle Brigade, and fought for two years in Flanders, along the Belgian Front, and was awarded a Military Medal for distinguishing himself on the battlefield. Towards the end of the war, he accidentally inhaled the poisonous gas used as a weapon by the German army, and was sent back to Britain to recover. Mendes returned to Trinidad in 1919, and worked in his wealthy father's provisions business, while spending his spare time writing poetry and fiction, and in establishing contact with other writers, artists and scholars. In 1933 he went to New York, remaining there until 1940. While in the USA he joined literary salons and associated with writers including Richard Wright, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, William Saroyan, Benjamin Appel, Tom Wolfe, Malcolm Lowry and Ford Madox Ford. He went back to Trinidad again in 1940. Together with C. L. R. James, Mendes produced two issues of a pioneering literary magazine called Trinidad (Christmas 1929 and Easter 1930). Several of his stories appeared in The Beacon, the journal edited by Albert Gomes from March 1931 until November 1933. Mendes was quoted as saying in 1972: ‘James and I departed from the convention in the selection of our material, in the choice of a strange way of life, in the use of a new dialect. And these departures are still with our Caribbean successors.’ In all Mendes published about 60 short stories in magazines and journals in Trinidad, New York, London and Paris. His first novel Pitch Lake appeared in 1934, with an introduction by Aldous Huxley, and was followed by BLACK FAUNS in 1935. Both novels are significant in the history of literature from the Caribbean region and are landmarks in the establishment of social realism in the West Indian novel. In 1940, Mendes abandoned writing and worked in Trinidad's civil service, becoming General Manager of the Port Services Department. He was one of the foundering members of the United Front, a party with socialist leanings that participated in the 1946 general elections. After his retirement in 1972, he lived in Mallorca and Gran Canaria and ultimately settled in Barbados. In 1972 he was awarded an honorary D. Litt. by the University of the West Indies for his contribution to the development of West Indian literature. He began writing his autobiography in 1975 and his unfinished drafts were edited by Michèle Levy and published in 2002 by the University of the West Indies Press as THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALFRED H. MENDES 1897-1991. Mendes and his wife Ellen both died in 1991 in Barbados and are buried together there in Christ Church Cemetery. Mendes married in October 1919, and had a son, Alfred John, the following year. His first wife, Jessie Rodriguez, died of pneumonia after only two years of marriage. A second marriage, a year later, ended in divorce in 1938. His third wife was Ellen Perachini, mother of his last two sons, Peter and Stephen. He is the grandfather of film director Sam Mendes.



Genocide and Vendetta: The Round Valley Wars Of Northern California by Lynwood Carranco and Estle Beard. Norman. 1981.  University Of Oklahoma Press. ISBN:0806115491. 403 pages. hardcover.




High in the Coast Range of Northern California, between the snowy peaks called the Yolla Bollies and the coastal redwood forests, lie several fertile valleys which were the traditional home- lands of the Yuki, Wailaki, Huchnom, Lassik, and other Indian tribes. In this idyllic setting, particularly in Round Valley in northeastern Mendocino County, occurred some of the most horrible scenes in California history. This exciting account draws on primary sources to tell for the first time the fascinating and shocking truth about the early settlers of this California frontier. The first six chapters of Genocide and Vendetta present the history of the Yolla Bolly Country up to 1865, describing the region, the culture of the Yuki and their neighbors, and the depredations of the white settlers. In twenty-five years the native populations were nearly extirpated by the whites’ murderous raids and wholesale kidnappings of Indian women and children and by the fraud and malfeasance of the California Indian Superintendent and his subagents. The second part of the book, covering the years from 1865 to 1905, is about the lives and fortunes of the white men and women who settled in the Yolla Bolly Country-among them the Asbill brothers, who first discovered Round Valley; Kate Robertson As- bill; and Cattle King George E. White, whose outlaw buckeroos murdered and rustled to establish for him one of the richest cattle empires in the West. When two of White’s former workers dared to operate their own spread deep in White’s territory, one of them was shot and lynched by White’s henchmen. This was the culmination of what reporters called ‘the bitterest quarrel of all the West,’ ‘the only deadly feud in California.’ The cowardly and brutal act and the drawn-out murder trials that followed make sensational reading. After an allegation of (unintentional) plagiarism was leveled against the section written by Estle Beard, the publisher investigated, agreed with the complaint, and withdrew the book from sale. Since both authors have since passed away, it seems unlikely that this book will ever be republished or converted into an e-book. The original hardcover is the only way to read about this troubled era in Northern California's history.


LYNWOOD CARRANCO was Professor of English in College of the Redwoods, Eureka, California, and the author of several books and many articles on California history. ESTLE BEARD was a retired cattle rancher and history buff in Covelo, California.






Karl Marx by Isaiah Berlin. London. 1939. Thornton Butterworth. Author's 1st Book. The Home University Library. hardcover. 256 pages.


karl marx isaiah berlin no dwFROM THE PUBLISHER - 

First published over fifty years ago, Isaiah Berlin’s compelling portrait of the father of socialism has long been considered a classic of modern scholarship and the best short account written of Marx’s life and thought. It provides a penetrating, lucid, and comprehensive introduction to Marx as theorist of the socialist revolution, illuminating his personality and ideas, and concentrating on those which have historically formed the central core of Marxism as a theory and practice. Berlin goes on to present an account of Marx’s life as one of the most influential and incendiary social philosophers of the twentieth century and depicts the social and political atmosphere in which Marx wrote.



  Berlin IsaiahSir Isaiah Berlin (6 June 1909 – 5 November 1997), British of Russian-Jewish origin, was a social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas, ‘thought by many to be the dominant scholar of his generation’. He excelled as an essayist, conversationalist and raconteur; and as a brilliant lecturer who improvised, rapidly and spontaneously, richly allusive and coherently structured material. He translated works by Ivan Turgenev from Russian into English and, during the war, worked for the British Diplomatic Service. In its obituary of the scholar, The Independent stated that ‘Isaiah Berlin was often described, especially in his old age, by means of superlatives: the world's greatest talker, the century's most inspired reader, one of the finest minds of our time ... there is no doubt that he showed in more than one direction the unexpectedly large possibilities open to us at the top end of the range of human potential’. In 1932, at the age of 23, he was elected to a prize fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. From 1957 to 1967, he was Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at the University of Oxford. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1963 to 1964. In 1966, he played a crucial role in founding Wolfson College, Oxford, and became its first President. He was appointed a CBE in 1946, knighted in 1957, and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1971. He was President of the British Academy from 1974 to 1978. He also received the 1979 Jerusalem Prize for his writings on individual freedom. The annual Isaiah Berlin Lectures are held at the Hampstead Synagogue and both Wolfson College and the British Academy each summer. Berlin's work on liberal theory and on value pluralism has had a lasting influence.





New American Library and Signet Classics



The New American Library Signet Classics were a ground-breaking line of paperback books for their time that had a tremendous impact on the book industry of mid-20th century American. While primarily geared to a secondary school market, they also managed to bring an amazingly diverse selection of classic titles to the general American book-buying public, at a reasonable price with innovative and attractive covers.   


 As early as 1836 British companies were producing cheap “yellowback” books, mostly reprints, for a mass audience of readers as literary rates rose in England. Publishers in Germany, mostly notably Reclam of Leipzig, created their own cheap paper reprint editions with their Universal-Bibliothek mass market series in 1867. Reclam also became the first company to introduce book vending machines to Germany.

While the 19th century brought numerous improvements in the printing, publishing and book-distribution processes, particularly with the introduction of such technology as the steam-powered printing presses, pulp mills, automatic type-setting, and a network of railways, it wasn’t until the German publisher Albatross Books streamlined the paperback format in 1931 that the real seeds of a 20th century paperback revolution were truly sown. Albatross came up with a new standardized size (181 x 111 mm), and used sans-serif fonts designed by British typographer Stanley Morison. They also color-coded their titles by according to genre. The series was very successful for Albatross Books until the advent of World War II put an end to their publishing experiment. In 1935 however, Penguin Books adopted many of Albatross' innovations, including a conspicuous logo and color-coded covers for different genres. British publisher Allen Lane launched the Penguin Books imprint in 1935 with only ten reprint titles and began a paperback revolution in the English-language book-market. Lane’s ambition was to produce inexpensive books and sell a lot of them.


After purchasing paperback rights from publishers, Lane would do what were then large print runs, sometimes as many as 20,000 copies of a book. It was all part of his strategy to keep his unit cost low. Booksellers were a little skeptical of the new format a first, so Lane explored non-traditional market, like department stores, including Woolworth’s. It didn’t take long for the idea to catch on and as bookstores began carrying Lane’s books, "Penguin" became closely associated with the word "paperback.”

Robert de Graaf created Pocket Books in partnership with Simon & Schuster in 1939 and “pocket book” synonymous with the paperback in the United States.  The biggest difference of substance between Penguin and Pocket Books was probably their different approach to cover treatments. De Graaf also aimed for a broad appeal and utilized the magazine and newspaper distribution networks to reach that audience.

British Penguins opened an office in New York in July of 1939, tasked with importing Penguins and Pelicans to the United States. They started with 100 British Penguin, a staff of two, and hired a young American to direct the branch named Ian Ballantine.

Given that the imports first needed to come from England to New York, and then be distributed to American booksellers, the American Penguin office found themselves at a serious disadvantage in terms of getting and keeping the right titles in stock to fill demand. They needed an effective system of distribution akin to what Pocket Books had already created. It was necessary to choose titles carefully when it came to importing.

Penguin grew slowly, a little too slowly for Allen Lane, the head of British Penguin, who was not entirely impressed with Ballantine’s results. He reached out to Kurt Enoch, who had escaped the Nazis in Germany, and made him the vie-president of Penguin Books, Inc.  In 1943 Enoch hired Gobin Stair to oversee production and design. Stair in turn hired a number of illustrators like H. Lawrence Hoffman and Lester Kohs to produce cover of good taste and relative modesty, but still different than the British Penguin which at the time consisted exclusively of typographical styled covers. These new cover treatments did not please Allen Lane, who thought the cover art perhaps a little too garish. The true is that nearly all of the other paperback publishers at the time were producing covers with more innovative artwork, and Ballantine and Enoch did not think that the strictly typographical cover had a chance of selling in the States. They were simply too different from their competition, and not in a good way. A split with Penguin in England was inevitable. Enoch had hired a cover artist named Robert Jonas, who designed the cover of Erskine Caldwell’s TROUBLE IN JULY in 1945. Jonas had strong beliefs about balancing social consciousness with art and had an enormous impact on the artwork of the American Penguins of that time.

Also in 1945, Ian Ballantine left the American branch of Penguin to start Bantam Books and Victor Weybright became part of Penguin’s management. While the relationship with British Penguin was a decent one, Kurt Enoch and Victor Weybright decided in 1948 start their own publishing company, the New American Library of World Literature, Inc. (NAL), and Signet books made their first appearance in the summer of 1948.

Kurt Enoch and Victor Weybright in 1958

 They broke their ties with British Penguin and after a short period where a few “Penguin Signets” and “Penguin Mentors” still appeared, dropped “Penguin” from the imprint names altogether. Mentor Books, as a quality line of nonfiction (their slogan "Good Reading for the Millions."), was most certainly an outgrowth of Pelican in the UK, as the Signet Classics line became the American version of the Penguin Classic.

Victor Weybright had his fans and his detractors. He no doubt had vision. Andre Schiffren called him “a flamboyant man who gloried in his snobberies and pretensions,” who managed to surround himself with talented editors. Schiffrin also noted Weybright’s “unmitigated anti-Semitism” in his THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS published in 2000 by Verso. E. L. Doctorow, when a NAL editor, had this to say regarding Weybright – “He had a good restless mind and loved to wheel and deal.” On the other hand Weybright was in his estimation susceptible to people who knew that Weybright had aspirations to “be one of the ‘big boys’.”

Kurt Enoch received better treatment by Schiffren, perhaps because Enoch was the one who actually hired Schiffren. Enoch was described as a “small, trim, very shy, and a model German intellectual,” who had an early understanding of the importance of the paperback, perhaps because he had been one of the founders of Albatross in Germany

Weybright clearly had a good editorial eye. In addition to bringing Mickey Spillane and Ian Fleming’s James Bond books to NAL’s and insuring the company’s commercial position in the industry, his decision to publish a number of African-American authors of the day was visionary. The authors he brought to NAL included William Motley, Richard Wright, William Gardener Smith, Chester Himes, Ann Petry, and Ralph Ellison.  


The Signet list was not only a commercial success. They received critical praise for the list of important author that they had assembled, including works by William Faulkner, James T. Farrell, George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, D. H. Lawrence, Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ken Kesey, Sinclair Lewis, Margaret Mead, John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Bowles, Curzio Malaparte, Alberto Moravia, and J. D. Salinger. All this and they still produced plenty of westerns and other genre titles too. 



At one point Robert Jonas, designer and artist, stopped illustrating Signet Westerns and started producing most of the covers (more than 95% through the 1950s) of the Mentor covers. He was also responsible for the typography of the Signet covers. By the mid-1950s both Signet and Mentor covers had been given a more modern look under the direction of Bill Gregory, who replaced John Legakes as art director in 1961. It was Gregory who would produce new colophons and brought a brand new look to New American Library’s line of Signet Classics with launched in 1959.

By 1960 most of the paperback publishing house were producing public domain classic geared to a school audience, both secondary and college. Many of these lines were clearly influenced by the British Penguin and Pelicans, and cover artists like Edward Gorey (Anchor) and Leonard Baskin (Vintage) were highly sought after.

 The Signet Classics line had a reputation for success with their cover illustrations by employing a variety of artists, many of whom had never illustrated book covers before, but were well known as illustrators. Milton Glaser designed the Signet Classics Shakespeare series and received a number of awards for his cover artwork.   

When the first Signet Classics were published, NAL was at a peak of their financial success. Even though both Bantam and Pocket Books had their own lines of classics, the Signet Classics line quickly became the dominant mass market publisher of classics.

Before starting at Pantheon, the small publisher that his father Jacques Schiffrin had started, Andre Schiffrin worked for New American Library. According to Andre Schiffren in his book THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS, it was a memo that he wrote to editor Arabel Porter suggesting possibilities for the first Signet Classics that helped to spark a favorable response to the idea and led to the publishing of the series.

Arabel Porter was considered something of a “high priestess among young writers,” and was described as a quiet and unpretentious intellectual. She was the force behind New American Library’s New World Writing literary magazine, published between 1952 and 1959, which was  modeled partly on John Lehmann’s Penguin New Writing , published in England from 1940-1950.   New World Writing was published in fifteen biannual issues and featured works of fiction, drama, essays, and poetry by new and leading writers from around the world. Contributors included Gore Vidal, Flannery O’Connor, Jack Kerouac, W. H. Auden, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, E. E. Cummings, Jean Genet, André Gide, Christopher Isherwood, Norman Mailer, Pablo Picasso, Kenneth Rexroth, William Carlos Williams, Upton Sinclair, Wallace Stevens, Eugène Ionesco, Octavio Paz and Tennessee Williams. The corrected typescript of "Catch-18" by Joseph Heller, which eventually became the first chapter of Catch-22, was originally published in issue #7. According to her boss, Victor Weybright, Arabel J. Porter was ‘a Bohemian Quakeress, with inspired eyes and ears which seem to see and hear all the significant manifestations of the literary, dramatic and graphic arts.’ Marc Jaffe referred to her thusly – “She was a very warm person,” and he added that she was sensitive to the words on a page.

Considering that the very first Signet Classic turned out to be a book that Schiffren proposed, the 19th century French classic Adolphe and the Red Notebook by Benjamin Constant (CD1), I would say that Andre Schiffren can indeed lay claim to being a major player in the creation of the Classics series.

“In these two remarkable works, a brilliant, vain, long - suffering Frenchman describes the first twenty years of his life and their culmination in a tortured love affair with an older, possessive woman of the world. Benjamin Constant attempted to conceal the fact that these two books were autobiographical. But to his familiars, it was clear that he himself was Adolphe. And in the intimate account of his strange liaison with Ellénore, he may well have been protesting against his inexorable bondage to his fiery, demanding mistress, Madame de Staël. Constant was an able parliamentarian, a champion of liberalism and the author of the History of Religion. But posterity remembers him as the man who bared the anatomy of a destructive passion in the story of Adolphe.”

NAL also published new editions of classic works — for example, a Shakespeare series — which featured renowned scholars, editors, and translators; many of these editions were oriented toward high school and college readership. Even before the acquisition by Times Mirror, Victor Weybright had been interested in creating a well-edited series of Shakespeare’s plays. He contacted Sylvan Barnet of Tufts University and over a bowl of corn flakes and coffee they came up with a tentative deal where Barnet would serve as the general editor of the Signet Classics Shakespeare series and find other specific editors for each individual volume. There is little doubt that the Signet Classics Shakespeare series was created partly to directly compete with Pocket’s Folger Library editions of Shakespeare’s plays.

Signet even at one point had plans to publish a Signet Classic edition of CATCHER IN THE RYE by J. D. Salinger, but that wound up getting scuttled due to Salinger’s displeasure with deliberations over the paperback cover of the book. He also didn’t want a foreword or an afterword, even if it was by a notable critic. It didn’t help that such an amazingly popular author refused to allow his picture on earlier paperback editions. There was even a suggestion to have a line drawing made of Salinger much like the author portraits that appeared on the front free endpaper accompanying a short biographical piece of each Signet Classic, particularly in the earlier editions. That wasn’t going to fly with Salinger. An internal memo from August 17, 1959) signed by both Truman Talley and Peter Gruenthal settled it, “Please drop Catcher in the Rye from the February, 1960 list of Signet Classics. This title will probably not reappear on future Signet Classic lists due to unusual author-trade publisher-NAL relationship.” Coincidentally, that same month saw the publication of the inaugural batch of the Signet Classics line. Salinger went on to Bantam who publishes him to this day. The rather nondescript typographical covers of the Bantam edition were of course designed by Salinger himself.

In 1959, paperbacks were distributed to the 4,000 bookstore covering the United States at the time and through what were called ID (Independent Distributors) wholesalers, to the many non-bookstore accounts across the country – newsstands, drug stores, grocery stores, etc., numbering over 70,000 outlets. The ID wholesalers grew out of the old magazine distribution network that had come into being during Prohibition to distribute racing forms, and quite possibly alcohol itself. They started with magazines, but as the paperback revolution took hold, they began distributing books as well. Returns were high with the IDs though, so the risk was great even though the payoff could be substantial when a title worked for them.    

With Kurt Enoch devoting himself to the business end of NAL – production, sales, and distribution – and Victor Weybright focusing on the editorial aspects, NAL was not only receiving the praise for readers, critics, and educators, they had become a very profitable publisher. NAL had achieved that balance between commercialism and editorial excellence, and by the late 1950s NAL had grown to be the largest paperback house in the country. 

To secure NAL’s future Enoch and Weybright decided that the best way was for the company to go public. They made overtures to Times Mirror, and a final agreement between the two parties went into effect on March 24, 1960. The merger had positive results for Times Mirror immediately, meaning that their stock rose. Unfortunately though, tensions between Enoch and Weybright increased, leading to Weybright’s eventual resignation from NAL.   

The continual corporate interference in matters editorial however led both Victor Weybright and Truman Talley to leave the company in 1966. Publishing had entered the era of the corporate manager. Many of the most talented of the NAL editorial staff wound up leaving as a result – E. L. Doctorow to Dial press, Arabel Porter to Houghton Mifflin, and Marc Jaffe to Bantam.

New American Library changed ownership hands three times over a period of 27 years. In 1960 Times Mirror of Los Angeles owned by the Chandler family and publishers of the Los Angeles Times, bought NAL (at the time the second ranking paperback publisher in size and power). Although NAL supposedly operated autonomously within the Mirror Company structure, and NAL's management remained unchanged, they were soon to become just another mass market line. In the 1970s President of New American Library Herbert K. Schnall said that “it almost doesn’t pay to buy something for under $100,000,” reflecting a more corporate mentality towards acquisitions.

In 1983 Odyssey Partners and Ira J. Hechler bought NAL from the Times Mirror Company for over $50 million, and then in 1985 New American Library purchased hardcover publisher E. P. Dutton. By this time, the Wheatland Corporation (controlled by Ann Getty and George Weidenfeld) now owned Grove Press, Random House bought Times Books, Simon & Schuster purchased Prentice-Hall, Macmillan in a feeding frenzy bought Scribner's, Atheneum, and Rawson Associates, in addition to the remains of Bobbs-Merrill (and then liquidated it as quickly as they could). The consolidation of publishing was in full swing. 

Bill Targ, former editor for World Publishing Company and G. P. Putnam’s  Sons described the new corporate masters of American publishing as “megalomaniacs and wheeler-dealers” and “market analysts with slide rules up their arses and a power glint in their eyes.”

In 1987, the NAL was reintegrated by purchase into the Penguin Publishing Company, its original parent company. On February 22, 1985 NAL announced its purchase of E. P. Dutton, and in 1986 Peter Mayer, chief executive officer of Penguin Publishing announced Penguin’s purchase of NAL. This was effectively the end of New American Library other than as a publishing component of Penguin and much later Random House.




Sources cited –




Baines, Phil. Penguin By Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005. New York. 2005. Penguin Books. 255 pages. 9780141024233

  The extraordinary story of Penguin covers and their rich and diverse design heritage. Ever since the creation of the first Penguin paperbacks in 1935, their jackets have become a constantly evolving part of Britain’s culture and design history. Rich with stunning illustrations and filled with details of individual titles, designers and even the changing size and shape of the Penguin logo itself, this book shows how covers become in design classics. By looking back at seventy years of Penguin paperbacks, Phil Baines charts the development of British publishing, book-cover design and the role of artists and designers in creating and defining the Penguin look. Coupling in-depth analysis of designers - from Jan Tschichold to Romek Marber - with a broad survey of the range of series and titles published - from early Penguins and Pelicans, to wartime and 1960s Specials, Classics, fiction and reference - this is a distinctive picture of how Penguin has consistently established its identity through its covers, influenced by – and influencing - the wider development of graphic design and the changing fashions in typography, photography, illustration and printing techniques. Filled with inspiring images, PENGUIN BY DESIGN demonstrates just how difficult it is not to judge a book by its cover. Phil Baines was born in Kendal, Westmorland, in 1958. He graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in 1985 and the Royal College of Art in 1987, and has been a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design since 1991. He is author and designer of TYPE & TYPOGRAPHY (with Andrew Haslam, 2002) and SIGNS: LETTERING IN THE ENVIRONMENT (with Catherine Dixon, 2003), both published by Laurence King. He is also a freelance graphic designer whose clients have included the Crafts Council, Goethe-Institut London, Matt’s Gallery and Monotype Typography. His work often includes the use of his own typefaces, three of which have been released for general use: Can You? (1991) and Ushaw (1994) by Fuse,and Vere Dignum by Linotype in 2003.

Bonn, Thomas L.. Heavy Traffic & High Culture: New American Library as Literary Gatekeeper in the Paperback Revolution. Carbondale. 1989. Southern Illinois University Press. 241 pages. 0809314789

   This is a book about the magical names in literature, about the literary heritage of a nation balanced against a backdrop of big business; it is the story of New American library from 1946 to 1961 and of Victor Weybright, the publisher whose talismanic phrase, ‘luster and lucre,’ characterizes both the cultural and financial formu1a that guided this giant paperback house. The book is based on the editorial correspondence at NAL from the company’s beginning in 1945 until just after its purchase by the Times-Mirror Company. Generally ignoring financial, marketing, and production records, the files that form the core of this book concentrate on interoffice memoranda to and from editorial staff and feature letters to and from authors, agents, publishers, and readers. Bonn shows how Weybright and copublisher Kurt Enoch advanced NAL from a poor, scarcely tolerated relation - as were all paperback reprinters - in the publishing family to a prestigious, even proprietary publisher, initiating contracts and discovering new talent. By the middle of the l950s, many hardcover publishing houses were accepting original manuscripts based on their anticipated mass market paperback sales. Bonn employs the ‘gatekeeper’ theory of communication to account for much of NAL’s success, citing Weybright as chief gatekeeper. Explaining this theory as Weybright applied it, Bonn notes that ‘the tension on the gate’s spring is created by the cultural contribution the work is likely to make tempered by its projected balance sheet.’ Weybright brought harmony to the conflicting interests of culture vs. commerce; his goal was ‘heavy traffic, high culture’ or John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and others at the dimly remembered 25 cents per copy. Bonn focuses on Weybright’s dealings with Bennett Cerf and Random House, Charles Scribner’s Sons, Alfred A. Knopf, and other hardback houses to show how NAL acquired titles. In this book, notable for its previously unpublished correspondence by major figures, Bonn scores another triumph by examining the phenomenon of paperback abridgment. These letters reveal the reactions of James M. Cain, James Jones, and Robert Penn Warren when paperback economics killed as many as half of their words. Well-founded fear of censorship, these files reveal, consumed much money and time, yet of all of the books on the NAL list, only Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre was judged obscene in a courtroom. The works of James M. Cain were challenged, as were those of Faulkner, until he won his 1950 Nobel Prize. Weybright also faced a continuing battle with certain authors over paperback covers. The editor’s views as to what would sell books frequently conflicted with the opinions of his authors. William Styron acquiesced to Weybright with some grace, but the cover conflict between NAL and James T. Farrell was bitter; the rift between NAL and J. D. Salinger over covers for The Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories grew so acrimonious that both sides lost when Salinger severed his relationship with the company. NAL published the great—William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, J. D. Salinger - and the big money-makers - Erskine Caldwell, Ian Fleming, Mickey Spillane. This ideal arrangement enabled the innovative paperback publishing company to make a profit even as it made a gigantic cultural contribution.

Bonn, Thomas L.. Under Cover: An Illustrated History of American Mass Market Paperbacks. New York. 1982. Penguin Books. 144 pages. 0140060715

 Following the evolution of mass market publishing - cover to cover to cover - in this delightful celebration of paperback books. From the wonderfully lurid covers of the forties and fifties (featuring ‘fleshy female victims of mayhem and murder’) to today’s specialized genre styles, this fascinating history focuses on paperback covers - the crucial factor in catching the eye and selling the book. The splendid illustrations and the odd facts, colorful anecdotes, and insider’s insights make Under Cover a rare treat for pop-culture buffs, designers, collectors, and book people of all kinds.

Thomas L. Bonn, Librarian at the State University of New York, College at Cortland, is the author of Paperback Primer: A Guide for Collectors and Under Cover: An Illustrated History of American Mass Market Paperbacks.

Coser, Lewis A. / Kadushin, Charles / Powell, Walter W.. Books: The Culture & Commerce Of Publishing. New York. 1982. Basic Books. 411 pages. 0465007457

 In an industry perilously poised between the world of culture and the demands of commerce, who decides what America reads? Editors, media packagers, the heads of large corporations, or the intellectual community? This major work by a team of distinguished socio1ogists provides the first comprehensive examinations of book publishing in America - the people, the organizations, and the network of information and gossip - nor only for trade books and blockbusters, but for college texts, scholarly and monograph publishing, and university presses. Based on extensive field research in a variety of houses and on hundreds of interviews with editors, publishers, authors, agents, marketing and sales staffs, booksellers and book reviewers, BOOKS discusses the inside operation of publishing house and shows how key outsiders – literary agents, reviewers, and book chains as well as independent booksellers – can make or break a book’s (and an author’s) fortunes. The authors explode widely held publishing myths, explain editorial career paths, reveal the anomalous position of secretaries and assistants, and explore the role of women and their changing status. Special attention is paid to the deteriorating quality of author-publisher relations, and to whether authors can do anything about it. Presenting the big picture of the industry, BOOKS analyzes the mixed effects of the recent wave of publishing mergers. Though a historic al review suggests that publishers have always cared about the bottom line, the difference today is that editors no longer make all the key decisions. BOOKS is required reading for everyone interested in the book industry - as well as an exciting contribution to the sociology of ideas and organizations.  ‘A pioneering sociological panorama of American world of books, presented with unmistakable touch of its accomplished authors.’ - ROBERT K. MERTON, University Professor Emeritus and Special Service Professor, Department of Sociology, Columbia University. LEWIS A. COSER is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at SUNY, Stony Brook. He is the author of many hooks, including Men of ideas (1965), Greedy institutions (1974), and Masters of Sociological Thought (1979). CHARLES KADUSHIN- is Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the author of several books, including The American Intellectual Elite (1974). WALTER W. POWELL is Assistant Profess or in the School of Organization and Management and Department of Sociology, Yale University, and the author of the forthcoming Getting into Print: The Decision Making Process in Scholarly Publishing (1982). He is also affiliated with Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, where he is studyi ng the financing of public television.

Davis, Kenneth C.. Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking Of America. Boston. 1984. Houghton Mifflin. 430 pages. 0395343984

 Dr. Spock, Betty Freidan, J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, John F. Kennedy, William Golding, D. H. Lawrence, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Rimmer, Kate Millett, Joseph Heller, Henry Miller - What is the single innovation in mass media that gave all these writers the ability to profoundly influence modern American culture? The paperback. Since their modest beginnings at the outset of World War II, inexpensive paperback books have grown into an eight-hundred-million-dollar-a-year industry and now overflow the country’s newsstands and bookshelves. From intellectually respectable classics such a Waiting for Godot, Lord of the Flies, and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to trendy novels like Peyton Place Love Story and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, paperbacks have had an unparalleled ability to shape the tastes and opinions of literate America. Kenneth C. Davis’s Two-Bit Culture chronicles the Paperback Revolution - the men and the women, the companies and the characters, that enabled American writers to find American readers by the millions.  Crammed with facts as well as gossip, Two-Bit Culture not only brings to life the history of the paperback but examines its present state and predicts where this fascinating business may be heading. ‘Must reading for anyone who wants to understand American publishing and popular culture since World War II. A sterling achievement.’ -  Marc Jaffe.

Schiffrin, Andre. The Business Of Books: How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing & Changed The Way We Read. New York. 2000. Verso. 181 pages. 1859847633

 Postwar American publishing has been ruthlessly transformed since André Schiffrin joined its ranks in 1956. Gone is a plethora of small but prestigious houses that often put ideas before profit in their publishing decisions, sometimes even deliberately. Now six behemoths share 80% of the market and profit margin is all. André Schiffrin can write about these changes with authority because he witnessed them from inside a conglomerate, as head of Pantheon, co-founded by his father bought (and sold) by Random House. And he can write about them with candor because he is no longer on the inside, having quit corporate publishing in disgust to setup a flourishing independent house, the New Press. Schiffrin’s evident affection for his authors sparkles throughout a story woven around publishing the work of those such as Studs Terkel, Noam Chomsky, Gunnar Myrdal, George Kennan, Juliet Mitchell, R.D.Laing, Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Thompson. Part-memoir, part-history, here is an account of the collapsing standards of contemporary publishing that is irascible, acute and passionate. An engaging counterpoint to recent, celebratory memoirs of the industry written by those with more stock options and fewer scruples than Schiffrin, The Business of Books warns of the danger to adventurous, intelligent publishing in the bullring of today’s marketplace. André Schiffrin was, for thirty years, Publisher at Pantheon. He is the Director of the New Press, which he founded in 1993. He contributes a regular column on publishing to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Schreuders, Piet. Paperbacks, U. S. A.: A Graphic History, 1939-1959 (Translated from the Dutch by Josh Pachter). San Diego. 1981. Blue Dolphin Enterprises. 259 pages.

 In this informative and entertaining description of the first 20 years of paperback history, the emphasis is on the way these early books looked, and especially on their covers: who made them, how they were produced, and how they changed over two decades. Piet Schreuders, editor and designer of two popular Dutch magazines (Furore and the Poezenkrant), spent five years researching the roots of this cultural phenomenon and found, besides shameless plagiarism, amateurish drawings and commercially-bred bad taste, a wealth of sensitive, human, original and unique design and art.

Weybright, Victor. The Making of a Publisher: A Life in the 20th Century Book Revolution. New York. 1967. Reynal & Company. 360 pages.

 ‘When the story of The Paperback Revolution in America is one day told, it will be Victor Weybright’s THE MAKING OF A PUBLISHER that will serve as primary source material. Mr. Weybright was at the forefront of the rebellion to bring reading to everyone. And here, for the first time, performing as a Pepys of the paperback world, he opens locked doors and tells what went on inside the nobility, the pettiness, the triumphs, the failures, the Name publishers and authors one man’s truth about the movement to perpetuate the printed word against the forces of television and the machine. I recommend this memoir to everyone interested in books - publishers, editors, instructors, students - and Constant Readers.’ - Irving Wallace. This is the life story of a man who grew up in the Maryland countryside and whose zeal for learning and literature enabled him to become a leader in today’s book revolution. Although paperback books originally consisted largely of popular titles, he introduced books of genuine quality through The New American Library and changed the character and impact of low-priced publishing. One of the early influences in Mr. Weybright’s life was his experience at Hull House. During the war years he served in the American Embassy in London where he became well known in literary as well as political and social circles. After the war he returned to found his hugely successful publishing house. Throughout his life he has traveled widely and has come to know people of importance on both sides of the Atlantic who occupy a large part of this highly readable and always informative book. ‘I have read this with particular interest. Nobody has deserved better of the republic of letters than has Victor, a man who has combined a continuing sense of social responsibility with inventiveness in the book world, considerable daring in the discovery and promotion of young talent, and services to his government and to the Western world over and beyond the call of duty. I have read the book with a combination of interest and sorrow. The interest arises from the revelations of publishing history it contains nobody can ask a better introduction to the history of the paperback book revolution — and sorrow about its ending.’ - Howard Mumford Jones.



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