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.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.[4] The series was so successful that Albatross soon purchased Tauchnitz, giving itself an instant 100-year heritage.[5]

Albatross Books launched two book series, the Albatross Crime Club and the Albatross Mystery Club.[6]

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.


  1. ^ Fallowell, Duncan (2017-05-13). "The books the Nazis didn't burn". review. The Spectator. Retrieved 2019-12-17. The German-registered Albatross Press was a significant 20th-century publisher; so why have we barely heard of it?
  2. ^ Troy, Michele K. (2011). "Behind the Scenes at the Albatross Press: A Modern Press for Modern Times". In Spiers, J. (ed.). The Culture of the Publisher's Series, Volume One. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 202. doi:10.1057/9780230299368_11 (inactive 2021-01-17). ISBN 978-0-230-29936-8. Retrieved 2019-12-17.CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2021 (link)
  3. ^ Troy, Michele K. Wilson, Nicola (ed.). "Albatross". Modernist Archives Publishing Project. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  4. ^ Rego Barry, Rebecca (2017-04-03). "The Surprising History of Penguin Predecessor, the Albatross Press". Fine Books & Collections. Chapel Hill, NC: OP Media, LLC. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  5. ^ "jojoal" (2017-06-13). "Aldous Huxley in Tauchnitz and Albatross – Part 2". Paperback Revolution. (blog). Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  6. ^ "Albatross". Tauchnitz Editions. (blog). Retrieved 2019-12-17.

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