Ballantine Books


Ballantine Books is a major book
publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as books, newspa ...

located in the United States, founded in 1952 by
Ian Ballantine Ian Keith Ballantine (February 15, 1916 – March 9, 1995) was a pioneering American publisher who founded and published the paperback line of Ballantine Books from 1952 to 1974 with his wife, Betty Ballantine. The Ballantines were both induct ...
with his wife,
Betty Ballantine Elizabeth Jones Ballantine (September 25, 1919 – February 12, 2019), better known as Betty Ballantine, was an American publisher, editor, and writer. She was born during the Raj to a British colonial family. After her marriage to Ian Ballan ...
. It was acquired by
Random House Random House is an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world. The company has several independently managed subsidiaries around the world. It is part of Penguin Random House Penguin Random House L ...

Random House
in 1973, which in turn was acquired by
Bertelsmann Bertelsmann is a German private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a pair of mirrored letter Bs back to back. The firm's early editors were
Stanley Kauffmann Stanley Kauffmann (April 24, 1916 – October 9, 2013) was an American author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person w ...
Bernard Shir-Cliff Bernard W. Shir-Cliff (November 7, 1924-February 28, 2017) was an editor for Ballantine Books, Contemporary Books, Hachette Book Group USA, Warner Books and other publishers, who also translated books and later became a well-known literary agent. As ...


Fawcett Publications Fawcett Publications was an American publishing company founded in 1919 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota by Wilford Hamilton "Captain Billy" Fawcett (1885–1940). It kicked off with the publication of the bawdy humor magazine ''Captain Billy's Whiz B ...
' controversial 1950 introduction of Gold Medal
paperback A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with adhesive, glue rather than stitch (textile arts), stitches or Staple (fastener), staples. In ...
originals rather than reprints, Lion Books, Avon and Ace also decided to publish originals. In 1952, Ian Ballantine, a founder of
Bantam Books Bantam Books is an American publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of ...
, announced that he would "offer trade publishers a plan for simultaneous publishing of original titles in two editions, a
hardcover thumbnail, 200px, A typical hardcover book (1899), showing the wear signs of a cloth cover over the hard paperboards A hardcover, hard cover, or hardback (also known as hardbound, and sometimes as case-bound) book A book is a medium for recor ...
'regular' edition for bookstore sale, and a paper-cover, 'newsstand' size, low-priced edition for mass market sale." When the first Ballantine Book,
Cameron Hawley Cameron Hawley (September 19, 1905 – February 9, 1969) was an American writer of fiction from Howard, South Dakota. Much of Hawley's output concerned the pressures of modern life, particularly in a business setting. He published numerous novel ...
's ''Executive Suite'' was published in 1952, the publishing industry saw that the simultaneous hardcover and paperback editions were obvious successes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin published the $3.00 hardcover at the same time Ballantine distributed its 35¢ paperback. By February 1953, Ballantine had sold 375,000 copies and was preparing to print 100,000 more. Houghton Mifflin sold 22,000 hardback copies in its first printing. Ballantine's sales soon totaled 470,000 copies. Instead of hurting hardback sales as some predicted, the paperback edition instead gave the book more publicity. After the film rights were sold to MGM, Robert Wise directed the Executive Suite, 1954 film, nominated for four Academy Awards. On the heels of that kind of sales and publicity, other Ballantine titles were seen in spinner racks across the country. ''Executive Suite'' was followed by Hal Ellson's ''The Golden Spike'' (#2), Stanley Baron's ''All My Enemies'' (#3), Luke Short's ''Saddle by Starlight'' (#4, also with Houghton Mifflin), Ruth Park's ''The Witch's Thorn'' (#5, also with Houghton Mifflin), Emile Danoen's ''Tides of Tide'' (#6), Frank Bonham's ''Blood on the Land'' (#7), Al Capp's ''The World of Li'l Abner'' (#8, with Farrar, Straus & Young) and LaSelle Gilman's ''The Red Gate'' (#9).

Science fiction and fantasy books

During the early 1950s, Ballantine attracted attention as one of the leading publishers of paperback science fiction and fantasy, beginning with ''The Space Merchants'' (#21). The Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth novel had first appeared in ''Galaxy Science Fiction'' under the title ''Gravy Planet''. Kauffman scored when he acquired and edited Ray Bradbury's ''Fahrenheit 451'' (originally in ''Galaxy'' as a shorter version, "The Firemen"). Ballantine's science fiction line also included the unusual ''Star Science Fiction Stories No.3, Star Science Fiction Stories''. With cover paintings by Richard M. Powers, Richard Powers, this innovative anthology series offered new fiction rather than reprints. Edited by Frederik Pohl, it attracted readers by successfully combining the formats of both magazines and paperbacks. In the early 1960s, the company engaged in a well-known rivalry with Ace Books for the rights to reprint the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and Edgar Rice Burroughs in paperback form. Ballantine prevailed in the struggle for the Tolkien work, with their editions of Tolkien's ''The Lord of the Rings'' including a message on the back cover from Tolkien himself urging consumers to buy Ballantine's version and boycott "unauthorized editions" (i.e. the version from Ace Books). A separate Canadian edition of the books was published with different front cover art work. Tolkien asked for (and received) permission to add the back cover message. Betty Ballantine recalled: "And we did put a little statement on the back covers saying that Ace was not paying royalties to Professor Tolkien, and everybody who admired ''Lord of the Rings'' should only buy our paperback edition. Well, everybody got behind us. There was literally no publication that did not carry some kind of outraged article. And of course, the whole science fiction fraternity got behind the book; this was their meat and drink." In 1969, Lin Carter edited the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, which brought a number of rare titles back into print, as well as launching Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels, ''Deryni'' series. During the mid-1970s, Ballantine published the ''Star Trek Logs'', a ten-volume series of Alan Dean Foster adaptations of the animated ''Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek''. In 1968, Ballantine published a non-fiction book related to ''Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek'', ''The Making of Star Trek'' by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. In 1976, Ballantine published the novelization of a forthcoming science fiction film, ''Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker'' by George Lucas (ghostwriter, ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster). The book, like the film ''Star Wars (film), Star Wars'' released the following year, was an enormous success and sold out its initial print run. In the first three months, Ballantine sold 3.5 million copies.

Cartoons, comics and humor books

After publishing ''The World of Li'l Abner'', Ballantine introduced Shel Silverstein in 1956 with his ''Grab Your Socks!'' collection of cartoons from ''Pacific Stars and Stripes''. Ballantine also published several collections of Jim Davis (cartoonist), Jim Davis' comic strip ''Garfield''. As an editor at Ballantine during the 1950s and 1960s, Bernard Shir-Cliff handled the Zacherley anthologies, the paperback of Hunter Thompson's ''Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Hell's Angels'', Harvey Kurtzman's ''The Mad Reader'' and other early ''Mad (magazine), Mad'' paperbacks. He made four contributions to ''Mad'' and other magazines edited by Kurtzman. In 1956, Shir-Cliff edited a humor anthology, ''The Wild Reader'', for Ballantine, including essays, poems and satirical pieces by Robert Benchley, Art Buchwald, Tom Lehrer, John Lardner, Shepherd Mead, Ogden Nash, S. J. Perelman, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber and others. The 154-page paperback was illustrated with cartoons by Frank Kelly Freas, Kelly Freas who also did the front cover. Another contributor to both Ballantine and the Kurtzman magazines was the cartoonist-author Roger Price (comedy), Roger Price. He did two humor books for Ballantine. ''I'm for Me First'' (1954) details Herman Clabbercutt's plan to launch a revolutionary political party known as the "I'm for Me First" Party. ''In One Head and Out the Other'' (1954) popularized the catchphrase "I had one grunch, but the eggplant over there." The nonsense non sequitur was immediately adopted by science fiction fandom, appearing occasionally in fanzines, as noted in ''Fancyclopedia II'' (1959).Eney, Dick. ''Fancyclopedia II''. Bladensburg, Maryland: Operation Crifanac, 1959.

Ballantine authors

* Steve Berry (novelist), Steve Berry * Allison Brennan * Suzanne Brockmann * Terry Brooks * Harriet Brown * Meg Waite Clayton * Bill Dedman * Julie Garwood * Tess Gerritsen * Tommy Hilfiger * Linda Howard * Charlie Huston * Jonathan Kellerman * Demetria Martinez * C. Wright Mills * Anne Perry * Elizabeth Rosner * Jeff Shaara * Angus Wells * Carol S. Dweck * Emily Giffin * Jack L Chalker


Further reading

* J. Grant Thiessen in ''Science-Fiction Collector'' #6 offered a detailed listing of all Ballantine science fiction, fantasy and horror titles from 1953 to 1976, including later printings. * Internet Speculative Fiction Database documents all science fiction, fantasy, and horror publications of specific authors and titles by Ballantine-Del Rey Books
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database

External links

Finding aid to Ian and Betty Ballentine Books and Business Records at Columbia University. Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Bookscans: Ballantine covers

{{Penguin Random House American speculative fiction publishers Book publishing companies based in New York (state) Publishing companies based in New York City Publishing companies established in 1952 Random House Fantasy book publishers Science fiction publishers Ballantine family