Albatross Books

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Albatross Books
FounderJohn Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch
Country of originGermany
Headquarters locationHamburg
Fiction genresMass-market paperbacks

Albatross Books was a German publishing house based in Hamburg that produced the first modern mass-market paperback books.

Albatross was founded in 1932 by John Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch. The name was chosen because albatross is the same word in many European languages. Based on the example of Tauchnitz, a Leipzig publishing firm that had been producing inexpensive and paper-bound English-language reprints for the continental market, Albatross set out to streamline and modernize the paperback format.

The books in the series were produced in a new standard size, 181 x 111 mm, which approximated the aesthetically pleasing proportions known as the Golden Ratio. They used new sans-serif fonts developed by Stanley Morison among others, and were color-coded by genre, with green for travel, orange for fiction, and so on. The series was so successful that Albatross soon purchased Tauchnitz, giving itself an instant 100-year heritage.

The outbreak of World War II brought the Albatross experiment to a halt, but by then Allen Lane had adopted many of Albatross' ideas, including the standard size, the idea of covers using typography and logo but no illustrations, and the use of color coding by type of content, for Penguin Books. Lane later hired Kurt Enoch, co-founder of Albatross Books, to manage Penguin's American branch.

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