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Bantam Books (International) assertion Bantam Books i(A36906 works by) (Organisation) assertion
Born: Established: 1945 ;
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Bantam Books is an American publishing house, founded in June 1945 by Walter Pitkin Jr, Sidney B. Kramer, and Ian and Betty Ballantine. The company, which initially traded as Ballantine and Company, was set up following Ian Ballantine's resignation as manager of the American branch of Penguin Books. Pitkin and Kramer also resigned from Penguin at the same time as Ballantine. The new company published a small selection of original titles and reprints before Ballantine struck a 50/50 financing deal with Grosset and Dunlap and Curtis Publishing Company. (Grosset and Dunlap was then jointly owned by Random House, Harper and Brothers, Charles Scribner's Sons, the Book of the Month Club, and Little, Brown.) By August 1945, the company had changed its name to Bantam Books and located its first office at Grossett and Dunlap's headquarters at 1107 Broadway in New York City.

In January 1946, Bantam Books released its first twenty titles, including Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. It then began publishing an average of four titles per month (later expanded to six per month). In 1948, Bantam initiated book and film tie-ins, beginning with Frances Winwar's Joan of Arc (1948), published to capitalise on Victor Fleming's film version. Another early initiative was to publish a monthly list of its best sellers, the first of its kind in the 25 cent book market. Ballantine also set up a London-based subsidiary, Transworld Publishers Ltd. This company published Bantam Books under the Corgi imprint.

In 1952, Ian Ballantine was forced to resign from Bantam following a series of disputes with the board of directors. He subsequently founded Ballantine Books. Walter B. Pikin took on the presidency of Bantam for two years before he too resigned. (Sidney J. Kramer remained with Bantam until 1964.) Oscar Dystel was then brought in to head the company, beginning in July 1954. By this time, however, the paperback industry was collectively losing money due to a combination of factors, including rising costs, over-production, and increasing competition from television. Under Dystel, Bantam cut back on printing new titles (especially westerns) and recalled millions of books that had been sitting in wholesalers' warehouses. By the end of the decade, Bantam had returned to recording regular annual profits.

In 1964, Curtis Publishing sold its stock in Bantam to Grosset and Dunlap. That same year, Bantam established a distribution agreement with Select Magazines. Four years later, the company was sold (along with Grossett and Dunlap) to National General Corporation (NGC). In 1973, NGC was bought out by the American Financial Corporation, which on-sold the publishers to Italian conglomerate IFI International in 1974. German entertainment and publishing conglomerate Bertelsmann AG then bought out the controlling interest in Bantam in 1977. By the early 1980s, Bantam was releasing around 400 titles a year, most of them reprints.

In 1998, Bertelsmannn acquired Random House Inc (aka Random House Publishing Group) and merged its publishing operations with Bantam Doubleday Dell (BDD), which it already owned. The new publishing entity continued to operate with the name of its senior partner, Random House. The following year, the Random House publishing operations were reorganised into three sales divisions. These were children's publishing (expanded significantly), trade (largely unchanged), and adult publishing. The latter division included the formation of four new publishing groups, one of which was Bantam Dell Publishing (the other major group was Doubleday Broadway).

Although best known for publishing mass market adult fiction and nonfiction paperbacks (especially westerns, romance, mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction), Bantam has also published a select hardcover list. The Bantam catalogue includes the entire original run of the Choose Your Own Adventure series of children's books, as well as the first original novels (aimed at adults) based upon the Star Trek franchise. In addition to the dozen such titles published between 1970 and 1982 (when the licence was taken over by Pocket Books), the company published a similar number of volumes of short-story adaptations of scripts from Star Trek: The Original Series. Bantam is also the American paperback publisher of The Guinness Book of Records and, through its Bantam Classics Series, has offered a wide range of classic books, including, for example, The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith), Candide (Voltaire), and Around the World in Eighty Days (Jules Verne).

While some of Bantam's original titles have become best-sellers, its most popular publications have been reprints. Among its most successful reprints have been William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist (1973), John Steinbeck's The Pearl (1948), Jacqueline Susann's The Valley of the Dolls (1966), David Rubin's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (1971), and Peter Benchley's Jaws (1975). Other well-known authors to be published include Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, Frederick Forsyth, Herman Hesse, Leonard Cohen, J. D. Salinger, Dean Koontz, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, Graham Greene, Jerry Seinfield, and Mark Twain.

Among the several hundred books by Australian authors to be published by Bantam are those by such people as Leonard Mears (under his American pseudonym Marshall McCoy), Russell Braddon, Janette Turner Hospital, Morris West, Arthur Mather, Peter Corris, John Marsden, Nick Earls, Peter Temple, Sophie Masson, Colin Falconer, and Cory Daniells (qq.v.). Bantam also published a collection of novellas adapted from the popular television drama Neighbours under the series title Neighbours: The Untold Stories, along with the US edition of the Craig Pearce and Baz Luhrmann's (qq.v.) screenplay Romeo + Juliet.

Most Referenced Works


  • Further Reference:

    • Dzwonkoski, David, and Philip Dematteis. 'Bantam Books.' In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 46 - American Literary Publishing Houses, 1900-1980: Trade and Paperback.' Ed. Peter Dzwonkoski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986, pp. 35-40.
    • 'For Marc Jaffe of Bantam Books, All of Publishing, Hardcover and Paperbacks, Is a Continuum - and Flexibility is the Thing.' Publishers Weekly 209 (22 Mar. 1976), pp. 24-27.
    • Petersen, Clarence. The Bantam Story: Thirty Years of Paperback Publishing.' New York: Bantam, 1975.
    • 'Something to Crow About: Bantam's 25th Year.' Publishers Weekly 197 (22 June 1970), pp. 30-35.
Last amended 10 Dec 2013 10:05:44
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