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Saturday, 22 November 2008


When you start collecting pulps and paperbacks it soon becomes an addiction. It's often fun to track down details of the authors, follow the trail of pen names to discover that the writer you imagined to be a six foot three, ruggedly handsome outdoors man is actually a silver haired old lady with bunions from Croydon, or that the chap who pens tales of the American West is actually a part time traffic warden and stamp collector. Anyone taking up the hobby will have to prepare for long hours looking around second hand shops or at jumble sales looking for that elusive yellow jacket or that western to complete your collection.

But one of the most stimulating things about the hobby is looking at all those lurid covers.

There are many styles of cover art but all served the same purpose - to entice the reader with their lurid, sensational images that hinted at the content inside the cheap covers.

Quite often the cover art would be far more lurid than the events detailed in the pages, but more often than not the covers were spot on which was probably because the pulps delivered certain ingredient that were contained in every book. Fast paced action, an appealing and Beautiful heroine or femme fatale, a rugged square jawed hero and usually a major action scene by page three.

Titles like Dykes On A Bike or He Killed for Love could only be interpreted one way by the busy artists who were quite often working on several titles at the same time.

These days I often buy old books as much for the cover image as for the author or subject matter. In fact some times it will be the cover image solely that tempts me to part with my cash.
An interesting web site for looking at old paperback covers is BOOKSCANS which provided many of the images seen here.

Quote - The goal of the Bookscans Project is to provide a visual catalog of ALL vintage American paperbacks (for my purposes, this is roughly the first 20 years of paperback-sized books; especially those printed before 1960 and/or having a 25¢ or 35¢ cover price). Collectors will probably declare this goal so lofty as to be impossible. They're right, of course, but even at its conception, Bookscans is the largest site of its type in the world. With the help of others, we just might come close to making it complete; and it'll be totally within the public domain (i.e., its free). - end quote.

The web site also contains links to come interesting articles on the hobby in general. So what are you waiting for, leave a comment on this blog and then head on over there and check out the hundreds and hundreds of lurid cover scans.


David Cranmer said...

Whenever I go to BookScans I get lost for hours.


David - I've only just discovered the site. It's great

Charles Gramlich said...

Love these old covers too. I've got to find Dykes on Bikes. The book, I mean.


Charles - If you do find it, may I borrow it. LOL

Ray said...

Great covers....takes me back. And if covers sell books - why is it that only westerns carry on the idea?

Barrie said...

I love the Perry Mason covers.


RAY - Don't forget the hard case crime series use covers in this style.