Pocket Books

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Pocket Books
PocketBooks-logo.jpg
Parent company Simon & Schuster
Founded 1939
Founder Richard L. Simon
M. Lincoln Schuster
Robert de Graff
Headquarters location 1230 Avenue of the Americas
Rockefeller Center
New York City
Official website www.pocketbooks.com

Pocket Books is a division of Simon & Schuster that primarily publishes paperback books.[1][2]

The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933), 1953 Pocket Books edition.

History[edit]

Pocket Books produced the first mass-market, pocket-sized paperback books in America in early 1939 and revolutionized the publishing industry. The German Albatross Books had pioneered the idea of a line of color-coded paperback editions in 1931 under Kurt Enoch; Penguin Books in Britain had refined the idea in 1935 and had 1 million books in print by the following year.

In 1944, the founding owners sold the company to Marshall Field III, owner of the Chicago Sun newspaper. Following his death, in 1957, Leon Shimkin, a Simon & Schuster partner, and James M. Jacobson bought Pocket Books. Simon & Schuster acquired Pocket in 1966.

Penguin's success inspired entrepreneur Robert de Graff, who partnered with publishers Simon & Schuster to bring it to the American market. Priced at 25 cents and featuring the logo of Gertrude the kangaroo (named after the artist's mother-in-law), Pocket Books' editorial policy of reprints of light literature, popular non-fiction, and mysteries was coordinated with its strategy of selling books outside the traditional distribution channels. The format size, and the fact that the books were glued rather than stitched, were cost-cutting innovations.

The first ten numbered Pocket Book titles:

  1. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  2. Wake Up and Live by Dorothea Brande
  3. Five Great Tragedies by William Shakespeare
  4. Topper by Thorne Smith
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  6. Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  8. The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
  9. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
  10. Bambi by Felix Salten

The edition of Wuthering Heights hit the best-seller list, and by the end of the first year Pocket Books had sold more than 1.5 million units. Robert de Graff continued to refine his selections with movie tie-ins and greater emphasis on mystery novels, particularly those of Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner.

Pocket and its imitators thrived during World War II because material shortages worked to their advantage. During the war, Pocket sued Avon Books for copyright infringement: among other issues, a New York state court found Pocket did not have an exclusive right to the pocket-sized format (both Pocket and Avon published paperback editions of Leslie Charteris' The Saint mystery series, among others).

Pocket is still known for publishing works of popular fiction based on movies or TV series, such as the Star Trek franchise (owned by corporate sibling CBS Television Studios, while former corporate sibling Paramount Pictures owns film and DVD distribution rights) and formerly Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The author credited for one of the Buffy products is Gertrude Pocket, a reference to the company's kangaroo logo (The Buffy novels are now published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, another division of Simon & Schuster). Since first obtaining the Star Trek license from Bantam Books in 1979 (with a publication of the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture), Pocket has published hundreds of original and adapted works based upon the franchise. Pocket Books is also the division that currently owns publication rights to the well-known work of James O'Barr, The Crow.

Imprints[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]