|Parent company||Random House|
|Founder||Walter B. Pitkin, Jr., Sidney B. Kramer, Ian Ballantine and Betty Ballantine|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
Bantam Books is an American publishing house owned entirely by parent company Random House, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House; it is an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group. It was formed in 1945 by Walter B. Pitkin, Jr., Sidney B. Kramer, and Ian and Betty Ballantine. It has since been purchased several times by companies including National General, Carl Lindner's American Financial and, most recently, Bertelsmann; it became part of Random House in 1998, when Bertelsmann purchased it to form Bantam Doubleday Dell. It began as a mass market publisher, mostly of reprints of hardcover books, with some original paperbacks as well. It expanded into both trade paperback and hardcover books, including original works, often reprinted in house as mass-market editions.
The company was failing when Oscar Dystel, who had previously worked at Esquire and as editor on Coronet magazine was hired in 1954 to manage it. By the end of the next year the company was profitable. Dystel retired as chairman in 1980. By that time Bantam was the largest publisher of paperbacks, had over 15% of the market, and exceeded US$100 million in sales.
Bantam has published the entire original run of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of children's books, as well as the first original novels based upon the Star Trek franchise, publishing about a dozen such books between 1970 and 1982, when the license was taken over by Pocket Books. Bantam also published a dozen volumes of short story adaptations of scripts from Star Trek: The Original Series. Bantam is the American paperback publisher of The Guinness Book of Records. Another series was "Bantam War Book" from the '70s to the '90s, with the majority of books from World War II, but also from Vietnam, Korea and other conflicts.
Authors originally published exclusively or significantly by Bantam include:
Books originally published by Bantam
- Spock Must Die!, James Blish
- Ishmael, Daniel Quinn
- The Gap Cycle, Stephen R. Donaldson
- The Saddle Club series
- Time Machine series
- Skinny Legs and All
- Jitterbug Perfume
- Still Life with Woodpecker
- The Further Adventures of The Joker
- Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?
- Interstellar Pig
- Talking Straight
- A Brief History of Time
- Flags of Our Fathers
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- Rafael Palacios, early book jacket artist at Bantam
- Andrews, Edmund L. (29 March 1998). "The World: Bertelsmann Swallows Random House; American Pop Culture, Foreign-Owned". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- Martin, Douglas (May 29, 2014). "Oscar Dystel, Who Saved Bantam Books, Dies at 101". New York Times. p. B19. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
... combined sharp editorial judgments, shrewd marketing and attention-grabbing covers to propel Bantam Books from the brink of collapse to pre-eminence in paperback publishing after World War II ...