David Rachels <RachelsDA@...> wrote:
> A random question, prompted by Jeff's awesome list: Does anyone know
> what the symbols on the spines of some GM paperbacks mean? (They are
> near the top, underneath the catalog number.) Looking at the shelf
> in front of me, for example, I see a red heart on #380, a black X on
> #409, a black box on #448, a black hourglass on #522, a black circle
> on #500, a green club on #224, etc. etc., but the majority of them do
> not have these markings.
To which John Woolley replied ... I can't give a complete answer, but I have some information. The "spine symbols" (as I've always called them) fall into three periods.
This question was asked in the print version of my fanzine Mystery*File a
while back, and it was answered in the letter column of issue #43. I hope
the following cut and paste comes out in readable fashion.
JEAN FRANÇOIS LE DEIST (France)
Concerning the symbols on the spines of some paperbacks in the
1950s, I found some information about them in Piet Schreuder's Paperbacks,
U.S.A.: A Graphic History, 1939-1959 (Blue Dolphin Books, San Diego, 1981).
<<The following excerpt came from the scan of the appropriate page
that Jean François kindly sent along. It is perhaps as definitive an
answer to the question that exists: "Between 1952 and 1956, a series of
mysterious symbols appeared on the spines of Gold Medal books: an S lying
on its side, a green heart, a five-pointed star, an arrow pointing
downward. These signs were probably introduced to make it easier for
distributors to sort books: each volume in an offering of 10 to 12 titles
would carry the same symbol. Pocket Books introduced its own set of signs
in 1953. Popular Library and Avon followed in 1954. In 1955, perhaps
because they were running out of new symbols, Pocket Books began prnting
the last digit of the book number on the spine instead (so different titles
from one offering now had different, rather than identical, identifying
marks); Bantam Books also switched to this system.">>
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