American and British Paperback Publishers 50 Years Ago


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
Some interesting discussion might arise in response to this charge:

List the American (or: List the British) publishers of paperback sf and fantasy in 1965, rank-ordered with what you regard as the best first.

I suppose a list for American publishers would include (but this is incomplete, right?)

Signet/New American Library

For British, about all I know would be

There's also:

Paperback Library

There are many other more minor publishers, of course. I notice some Towers on my shelves and I have one of the apparently three books published by the Book Company of America in their one year of operation, which happens to have been 1965. (It's a reprint - are we talking paperback originals only?) Either that or the ISFDB is incomplete.

The UK also had:


though Sphere doesn't seem to have started until 1967.

As far as ranking them, I couldn't really do that. All I could say is that the vast majority of books from that era are Ballantine and Ace and they would seem to have a clear edge on the rest in terms of innovation, quality, endurance, etc. I have a lot of Signets and Fawcetts, maybe Berkley next, but appreciable numbers of the others, too, but many of those are later reprints.
My hometown bookstore carried a lot of Airmont Classics when I was growing up in the 1960s. These were low-cost paperbacks that, despite their price, must not have sold very well, because the bookstore's Airmont racks (holding about two hundred titles!) were always full, and the books were always topped with a thick layer of dust. Anyways, Airmont published some SF reprints. Really oddball stuff. (The 40¢ cover price would have been about right for the mid-60s. The 60¢ and 95¢ cover prices have to be late-60s and 1970s printings.)


Last edited:
!965. since most publishers in the UK didn't have a SF line but published books that may or may not have been SF you could probably miss a lot. I know Faber did a few (I have an old copy of Aldiss' NonStop from this period). I'm not sure if Badger was about then (lots of real crap mostly Fanthorpe often under other names). Around that time you also have 4Star (published US material without regard to royalties or copyright). There was definitely Compact (publisher of New Worlds and some other works of the writers who appeared in there). There's Gollancz and the yellow covers. Dobson did the SF bookclub.
Thank you, everyone for these responses! (I remembered Avon when I was thinking of starting this thread, J-Sun, then forgot it, and I recognize the other names too.) Keep them coming, and do consider the ranking idea if you like.

Tom, in my experience Airmont always looked cheap in the sense of inexpensive, but (so far as I remember) never "cheap" in the sense of sleazy, exploitative, etc.

Publishers of reprints as well as originals.
Monarch Books -- I found among my sf books a copy of The Green Planet by J. Hunter Holly, with a dullish cover. Looked inside and saw it is credited to Jack Schoenherr -- I assume the same artist who illustrated Dune! Some ads for other Monarch books appear, sounding like real paperback trash stuff -- biographies of gangsters, "the true story of the inter-play of the aggressor and the victim in sex attacks," etc. My candidate so far for the bottom-ranking American paperback publisher.
Jimi looks worried.
Harlequin published a few SF titles - The Golden Amazon? - before they became strictly romance.
Maybe Belmont Books were to paperback sf as Cragmont Grape was to soda pop.
There was also Magnum:

Even though the cover indicates this is a first book publication, I have it in the back of my mind they reprinted mostly Lancer titles, though I could be wrong about that.
According to the ISFDB they were an imprint of Lancer but didn't start until 1967. I don't know how specific Extollager was being with the "1965" thing, though - I took it literally but he might have just meant "mid-60s."
...but it's OK to depart from the 50 years-no more, no less... Although I hope mostly we can keep the focus. On the other hand, the thread, strictly interpreted, might be about played out by now.
First one pulled off my shelf: Mayflower (UK) 1962. Subsidiary of Dell Publishing.
Dover Publications. In the mid-1960s, their list included SF classics by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Taine, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Also Edwin Abbott's Flatland and George Chappell's Through the Alimentary Canal with Gun and Camera (a humorous precursor of Fantastic Voyage). In 1968 they added Olaf Stapledon. Dover editions were trade (large) paperbacks, manufactured with bindings that wouldn't crack or split, and sewn-in pages that wouldn't fall out. (Most publishers' hardcover books haven't had sewn-in pages for three or four decades now.)

Last edited:
No wonder Jimi looks engrossed in his book.
I have the omnibus edition of the Penguin SF trilogy, there's some good stuff in there.

Similar threads