Graphically illustrating the evolution of Vintage American Paperbacks
1939 through 1979
BookScans is a free online reference site listing tens of thousands of .jpg images, arranged numerically, by publisher, displaying how cover images and graphics changed during the early years of paperbacks. Click "Go to the Scans" to see the Database Index Page for easy navigation to the various sections.
Trying to find a particular vintage paperback? There are plenty of resources to help you find a title or author (see "Reference Library"). BookScans is designed to let you see what the book looks like.
Included in the BookScans database are images of significant back-cover artwork. This technique was especially prevalent with early Dell and later Popular Library books, as well as Bantam, Lion, and other publishers.
Also included in BookScans is a section that is made up of different covers for the same literary work. There are more than 7,000 entries in the "Interpretations" folder.
Robert Gaines has taken over the BookScans "TWINS" Section, which illustrates the use of "recycled" cover artwork during the Vintage Period. More than 10,000 scans of paperback and pulp magazine covers are included.
(Avon Books often reused cover art on both front and back covers. The middle picture here was the back cover for The Marshal of Deer Creek, shown above.)
I need collectors to help me fill in the blanks. Please help complete the BookScans Project by sending me scans of your vintage books. I'll be sure to give you credit for your contributions. Click the "About BookScans" link to learn more, and check out "Scans Needed to Complete the Project" to see which ones are needed most.
BookScans is NOT an adult-oriented web site. However, the inclusion of these books is vital for an accurate study of vintage paperback history and marketing techniques. While the covers for the "60's Sleaze" and "Sexy Digests" sections are pretty tame compared to today's adult standards, some viewer discretion is advised. Together, those two sections include 9,500 scans of adult books published in the 1950's and 60's.
478 scans added in June!
Many, many thanks to contributors of cover scans and information during the past four months:
Bill Taylor, Bob Gaines, Brad Hollerbach, Brian Maginnity, The CA Kid, David Biemann, David Pressman, Grant Thiessen, Gunnar Olsen, Hooked on Books, Jim Fitzpatrick, Kenneth R. Johnson, Mick Cocksedge, Molly Ives Brower, Peter de Vos, Ralph Vasbender, Rick Beckham and Steve Ericson.
The total number of unique images is now over 111,000.
That figure includes more than:
98,000 vintage paperback cover images
4,400 reference books & publications
6,000 pulp magazines, digest magazines and dime novels
I will update the BookScans web site three times a year: in February, June and October.
NOTE: I'm still working on the PlupScans website, but the project keeps slipping. Sorry about that. Eventually, I plan to move all of the images of pulp magazines on BookScans to an independent site: http://www.PulpScans.com . It will be dedicated not only to cover images, but to interior illustrations (such as this one by Virgil Finlay). Feel free to visit as I build it. I will be adding hundreds of images to that site as time goes on.
Many thanks to vintage paperback enthusiasts who have pointed out errors on the web site. I strive to keep the information as accurate as possible. Please keep emailing me your comments and criticisms.
Recently, collector Rick Bechham, from Princeton, TX, has been sending me thousands of scans from Scholastic Books. When I started this little project a couple decades ago, I had not intended to include this publisher. However, since it appears that there are few other resources for these books, and if Rick wants to do all the work, I am more than happy to include all the info he has to provide ... and that's a pretty substantial amount! Check back often as I rebuild that section. Click HERE.
The Reference Library
I am in the process of completely updating the The BookScans Reference Library, which contains scans of more than 4,000 books, magazines and fanzines. (Many thanks to Bob Gaines for his numerous contributions.) I'm busy updating menus and index pages to help you browse the various sub-sections.
(I have completed collecting the entire run of Illustration Magazine, including the reprints, and I can now share those cover images in the Authors & Artists section.)
Free On-Line Reference Books:
BookScans is proud to host Kenneth R. Johnson's book Defunct Paperbacks, which joins his masterpiece The Digest Index as another definitive work on vintage paperback books. Click HERE.
I am also honored to host Jim Fitzpatrick's online work The Canadian Paperback Guide. It includes a richly illustrated index for Collins White Circle. AND NOW: Jim has completed his history and illustrated index of the first 500 Harlequin books!
Strange! Odd! Weird!
Two more entries in the section:
I have updated many of my LINKS!
Can You Help Identify These Paintings?
BookScans needs your help figuring out where these illustrations were used. Please click HERE. Many thanks to the website viewers who helped us find out what became of some of these fascinating pieces of original cover art. Several pieces have been identified recently.
July 26th - 29th
DoubleTree - Cranberry
near Pittsburgh, PA
Visit their WEBSITE
* The "TWIN" images were found by Robert Gaines.
Please report any broken links.
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This page was updated in June, 2018