Talk:Ace Books

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Featured article Ace Books is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on December 6, 2012.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
May 11, 2006 Peer review Reviewed
September 4, 2006 Featured article candidate Promoted
August 17, 2015 Featured article review Kept
Current status: Featured article

Needs pruning[edit]

This is intermittently fascinating, but it needs pruning. Consider for example this chunk:

A dos-à-dos book has the two titles bound upside-down with respect to one another, so that there are two front covers and the two texts meet in the middle (perhaps with some advertising pages in between). This format has been generally regarded as an innovation of Ace's; for example, James Corrick (the author of a reference work on Ace Doubles) quotes the October 18, 1952 issue of Publisher's Weekly as noting that although previous books had been published dos-à-dos, Ace was the first to put different authors in the same volume in this format.[1] The format itself was certainly not Ace's invention—there had long been devotional books bound dos-à-dos — but in fact there had also been earlier examples of books by different authors bound in this way. For example, Irvin S. Cobb's Oh! Well! You Know How Women Are! bound dos-à-dos with Mary Roberts Rinehart's Isn't That Just Like A Man!, was published by George Doran in 1920.[2] However, Ace published hundreds of titles bound in this way over the next twenty years, and became much the best known publishers of the format.

    [Sorry about the odd formatting there: it's what happens when you try to precede "<references />" with a colon.]

    This sends the reader to dos-à-dos, which actually gives the reader no additional encyclopedic information. (It does provide minor etymological information, which was hilariously wrong till I fixed it just now: look at this goofy edit, look at the edit summary, and consider that this silliness lasted almost two months.) Then well-documented misinformation about the significance of Ace gets us into a miniature essay about dos-à-dos binding that's pretty tangential to Ace, though this is indeed rescued at the end.

    I suggest instead that somebody better informed about bibliographic matters than I am creates Dos-à-dos binding, sticks what's necessary there, and then writes in this article something like:

    Although dos-à-dos binding (back-to-back binding with two front covers) had long predated its use by Ace, Ace greatly increased its salience in US mass culture, to the point where it was thought of as an Ace innovation.

    . . . adding a brief note with the Publisher's Weekly misinformation, stating that Garrick relates this on page six.

    A lot shorter! -- Hoary 09:34, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

    Thanks for the detailed suggestion -- very helpful. I've created dos-à-dos binding as you suggest, and moved some of the material there; I left a bit more in this article than you suggested. Let me know whether you think this is enough pruning. I'd also be interested to hear any other suggestions on the rest of the article -- is there other pruning that could take place? Thanks -- Mike Christie 14:08, 8 August 2006 (UTC)


    1. Given a choice, I usually plump for lowercase, but I'm surprised by the use of "sf" for "science fiction". As this is (I believe!) pronounced /esef/ rather than /sf/, wouldn't "SF" be better? -- Hoary 23:36, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

    You're right about the pronunciation, but this is quite a common form in my experience -- for example, it's the preferred usage in the Nicholls/Clute "Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction", which is the most widely respected encyclopaedia. I prefer "sf" myself, though on other pages I've seen other forms used. Mike Christie 00:31, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
    Ah, but see what an E-E dictionary says. I think you'll find that it will suggest "SF" (perhaps instead/also "S.F." if US). An encyclopaedia of SF might prefer "sf" as thousands of instances of "SF" would become visually tiresome. Note that the WP article on Science fiction systematically uses "SF" (though it does mention "sf"). -- Hoary 04:53, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

    2. I've changed Too Hot For Hell (my emphasis) to Too Hot for Hell. It's odd to capitalize prepositions (unless you're running a traditional US newspaper); see any style guide about this. A lot more such, er, decapitalization is needed. -- Hoary 23:57, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

    I've fixed two or three; let me know or fix anything else you see. I think the title lists are probably infested with this mistake too; I'll get to those eventually. Mike Christie 00:31, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

    [moved 2012 comment down the page. Drmies (talk)]

    Rings copyright[edit]

    We read:

    In 1965 Wollheim discovered a copyright loophole in the American edition of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The Houghton Mifflin edition had been bound using pages printed in the United Kingdom for the George Allen & Unwin edition. This placed them outside of US copyright law as it stood at the time.

    My underlining. But whatever them refers to, either the meaning of the whole remains obscure or my brain isn't firing on all cylinders today. Could you elaborate a little? -- Hoary 04:53, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

    This text predates my involvement in the article, but I'm pretty sure the referent is intended to be "pages" -- no doubt the wording could be clarified. Can't stop to fix it now, but will have a crack at it if you don't. Mike Christie 11:12, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
    I've had a go at rewording it. Mike Christie 17:04, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

    FA nomination?[edit]

    What would it take for this article to be ready to go to a featured article nomination? I've done a fair amount of work on it and would like to try to push it to the next level; I'd be interested in any criticisms or suggestions for improvement. Mike Christie 17:04, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

    Firstly, I am a new editor of wikipedia (started editing this month) trying to find a good articles to look up to. Secondly, it is a bit of surprise to see this article on Wikipedia:Featured articles. The article is well referenced and contains a lot of useful information but I find it hard to read. Paragraphs need some restructuring I think so a person not into sci fi can still read quickly through it and understand the main points. For example, a paragraph on history with a list of main events in company's history would be a good idea. The article is obviously written by somebody who knows a lot about sci fi and this company but it is important to keep a general public in mind when writing an article. Gpeja (talk) 00:55, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
    Thanks for the input. I agree it's not a very good example of a featured article right now; it's undergoing a review for just that reason. I'm currently engaged in trying to improve it back to the current featured standards; I hope to get a chance to complete work on it in the next week or two. I'll leave a note in the section at the bottom of this page; if you'd like to copyedit or help with improving the article that would be great. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 03:15, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

    references "not seen"?[edit]

    "The following references have not been seen". Seen by who? How do you know that no one who has worked on this article has seen any of those references?? The usual convention is to put unused and/or uncited reference works into a Further reading section. Kaldari 01:12, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

    I was the one who introduced them to the article, and I haven't ever seen copies; they weren't consulted in the course of making the article. However, I agree that my phrasing was poor; it implies an individual article author, which wasn't what I meant. What I was trying to indicate was that I only had secondary sources to vouch for the existence/usefulness of the references. I'm happy with the way your last edit leaves it. Mike Christie (talk) 01:23, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

    I fixed a link that now leads directly to Harry Whittington, the author of several important juvenile delinquent novels in the 1950s.

    (This is quoted from Mike Christie's talk page and continues here for the benefit of other interested parties.) "One thing did occur to me; your additions are around importance, rarity and collectability. Material of that kind is now rather distributed around the article; see the section on prices in the titles section, for example. Would a new section be worth it? I am torn because I think if we did create a special section, we'd still want to refer to rare and important titles in the historical narrative and also in the discussion of title numbering. What do you think?"

    I too am torn, but I think it's more appropriate to refer to rare and important titles in the historical narrative. A reference to Harry Whittington's "juvie" novels doesn't make a lot of sense outside of the context of Ace's genre specialization in the 1950s -- they are only valuable and important to people interested in the US in the 1950s OR to collectors who are trying to collect a numbered range of Ace paperbacks. So I think you're definitely right to have the section on prices in the titles section, because that's where that second kind of collector would expect to find it. For the rest of it -- well, my own experience of reading Wikipedia articles is that I enjoy coming across nuggets of interesting information studded throughout the article at points where they relate directly, rather than bunched into, say, a "trivia" section. However, you have done so much good work on this article and obviously know much more about the topic than I, so I think I should defer to your opinion on what would work best and merely offer what I can. Accounting4Taste 20:29, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

    Wolheim theory of LoTR copyright[edit]

    The article grossly misrepresented Eisen, Durwood & Co. v. Christopher R. Tolkien et alii. That decision was reached in '93, based upon copyright law in the wake of 1992 amendments to the Copyright Act of 1976. The 1992 amendments restored copyrights lost by such failures to include notices. Wolheim's theory was valid for the law as it stood from some time before he produced it until those 1992 amemdments went into effect. —SlamDiego←T 17:17, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

    ERB books[edit]

    One thing I fail to see any mention of here, and which I at least consider important, is that Ace published a large number of Edgar Rice Burroughs books during the 1960s. Ballantine did also, although I don't recall if there was any controversy a la the LOTR flap. Anyway, I think this needs some mention here. Wschart (talk) 00:34, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

    Do you know of a source that regards these books as notable -- e.g. a source on Burroughs' publication history, or on Ace itself? Ace published so much it's hard to know what to pick out and say is important without a separate secondary source asserting that importance. Mike Christie (talk) 01:03, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

    Staff names and dates[edit]

    Per Susan Allison at Ace Books, Anne Sowards has been an executive editor there since June 2009. I've been unable to source that date, and have put in "from September 2010" instead, based on a press release that names her in that role, but if anyone can find an earlier source from sff or Locus that names her titles between June 2009 and August 2010 it would be good to improve the date in the article. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:07, 5 December 2012 (UTC)


    "Sf" is used throughout the article, which is odd to me. At least once the abbreviation appears as "S.F". Are these abbreviations even necessary, and if they are used, should they be consistent? --Another Believer (Talk) 00:23, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

    They should be consistent; I hadn't realized they weren't. I changed the instance of "S.F." to "science fiction"; there was no need to abbreviate at that point.
    I think it's a matter of opinion whether they're necessary, but my feeling is that without some abbreviation paragraphs such as this one would feel very repetitive. Some form of abbreviation is standard in the literature, and "sf" is the form used in the standard reference, the Nicholls/Clute Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:34, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

    [moved from old section above by Drmies:] I've changed the references sf to scifi which I thing is a better term than using the capitalization. I made the changes before reading the talk page. If the consensus is something else, we can change it.Vettrock (talk) 15:48, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

    I've changed it back to "sf" because "scifi" is widely regarded within the field as a pejorative term. "SF" would be OK, if "sf" isn't acceptable, but I don't think "scifi" should be used. I prefer "sf" because it's common within the secondary sources. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:14, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
    "'scifi' is widely regarded within the field as a pejorative term" - care to provide a citation for this? I've been a sci-fi reader for several decades and have never heard this term used as a pejorative, nor is it mentioned in the science fiction article, and one would think this a significant point to be reported there due to it being a redirect. Yworo (talk) 23:23, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
    Here are a couple; I can find more if you want.
    • "Some critics within the genre, Terry Carr and Damon Knight among them, decided that, since the term [sci fi] was commonly derogatory, it might be critically useful in distinguishing sf hack-work – particularly ill written, lurid adventure stories – from sf of a more intellectually demanding kind." SFE3
    • "... [sci fi's] perceived overuse by the media and non-science fiction readers has caused many fans to disdain its use, and its use may brand the user as an outsider" Brave New Words, Jeff Prucher, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 178.
    • "By the seventies [sci fi] was a disparaging term used by people who didn't read science fiction to refer to the whole field, and so as a sort of protective reaction, people who did read science fiction as derogatory short-hand for hack science fiction, whether written or filmed." "The Matrix as Sci Fi", by Joe Haldeman, in Exploring the Matrix, ed. Karen Haber, 2004, Macmillan, [1].
    I agree that this should probably be covered in the article on science fiction, though I don't think it's that important a point.
    -- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library)
    Just as I thought, a couple of individuals foisted their personal preferences onto a gullible audience which swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. As both individual are now deceased, I say let's trash their personal preference: "sci fi" was never a pejorative term until they made it so, and there was no damn reason to do so in the first place. People who think it was ever intended perjoratively should simply grow up. Yworo (talk) 00:14, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
    I think we have to rely on the secondary sources, and the ones I listed are neither out of date nor irrelevant sources. If you really are curious I am pretty sure I could find half a dozen more similar quotations without much effort -- I recall something to that effect from Isaac Asimov, for example. It appears that the term has historically been regarded as derogatory by many professionals and many fans in the field. But unless you're proposing that we should change the article to use "sci fi", I don't think there's a need to debate it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:28, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
    P.S. I think you may be misreading the SFE3 quote; Carr and Knight were responding to the fact that "sci fi" was regarded as derogatory; they took advantage of that to redefine the term for use in criticism. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:38, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

    SF vs. sf[edit]

    Splitting from the topic above since it's really a separate point. I see you changed "sf" to "SF" throughout. This is fine if you feel strongly about it, but "sf" is quite common usage in the secondary sources, and I'd like to change it back. Some example sources that use lower-case "sf":

    • Tuck, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy
    • Nicholls/Clute, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
    • Kyle, A Pictorial History of Science Fiction (Kyle actually uses "s-f")
    • Ashley's series of magazine histories: The Time Machines, Transformations, and Gateways to Forever.
    • Greenland, The Entropy Exhibition
    • various, Hell's Cartographers.

    These are all books I can reach without getting up from my chair. There are certainly some that use "SF", too, but I think "sf" is a better representation of the secondary source usage. Any objections if I change it back? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:28, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

    Maybe we should just change all of the references to "science fiction" which clearly defines what we are refering to, and doesn't have the issue of which shortened version is most appropriate? sf/SF/SciFi/scifi are all just short for science fiction. Sound reasonable?Vettrock (talk) 15:45, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

    I don't think so -- there are some paragraphs where it would appear so frequently as to be quite annoying without an abbreviation. This paragraph, for example, would be harder to read if "science fiction" were spelled out in full each time. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:57, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
    I've reverted Yworo's change of "sf" to "SF", per the above comments; it's the usual form in the sources, and there have been no comments for close to a week. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:12, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

    I don't think changing it to science fiction would make it any harder to read. references to westerns, mysteries, or fiction in general don't have any type of abbreviation, and that seems to flow just fine. I don't think SciFi is bad, but since some people don't like it, I vote for "science fiction" .Vettrock (talk) 14:39, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

    Mysteries and westerns are the special cases, I believe.
    At wikipedia mystery fiction, science fiction, and western fiction are parallel terms. In this sense the adjectives mystery and western are well established in ordinary english as nouns with naturally formed plurals "mysteries" and "westerns" (as you say). We don't have any such short form of science fiction (or speculative fiction or supernatural fiction). Lack of a short form supports the initialism SF and ambiguity undermines it.
    Contrast fantasy fiction, a redirect to fantasy, which ordinary English supports. But the natural plural "fantasies" is not much used for works of fantasy fiction.
    Cf crime fiction and detective fiction (where "detective story" redirects).
    Cf horror fiction --where "horror" names the genre but there is no short form for single works afaik.
    --P64 (talk) 19:25, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

    FA article problems[edit]

    This article was promoted on 4 September 2006. It currently has some serious issues:

    • Tag of written like an advertisement
    • Whole paragraphs without citations
    • General shortage of citations and prose issues
    • Some unrealiable sources

    Crispulop (talk) 08:13, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

    A couple of the sources I used for this are in boxes in my basement so I may have some trouble there; and I am also concerned that a lot of what's there is original research -- I wrote this article early in my Wikipedia career, and I would do it rather differently now. I'll make a pass through in the next few days and fix up what I can and leave notes here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:12, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

    I've made some changes that address quite a few of the issues. I've ordered another source that should help and may also find some more in Corrick that I can use. More in the next week or two. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:49, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

    Thanks on the start to improve this article. Crispulop (talk) 07:15, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
    @Crispulop: I think everything is now cited; let me know what else needs to be done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:58, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

    See also section should be part of references (added as inline citation)? Gpeja (talk) 20:06, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

    Re-arranged some headings[edit]

    It is easier to read this way. I am not sure about Ace nomenclature as it may not be relevant at all. I suggest we delete this or put it somewhere under history.Gpeja (talk) 16:57, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

    Current events[edit]

    Ace is now part of Penguin. Should we add here a new editor in chief (under People) or under Penguin Books? There is no mention of Ace Books in Penguin Books article.Gpeja (talk) 16:57, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

    If you have a citation, it can be added in both places. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:58, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

    External links modified[edit]

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