My Bantam Headache
S5336 Another S5336
The Bookscans Database is on my computer. The list of books, therefore, is computer-sorted. Now, the printing order of Bantam books follows the sequence of the books' numbers. However, they often used letter prefixes to designate books by price, and in many cases, genre. This was common at other publishing houses (at least as far as price-prefixing goes) ... Gold Medal and Signet, in particular.
BUT ... Bantam had no fewer than 38 lettered prefixes (many of those were double-letter prefixes, of course -- otherwise, they would have had to stop at just 26), plus there were three separate numbered groups without prefixes. I try to update the Bantam folder each spring or early summer, which entails picking the books out of each of those 41 groups and placing them in their proper sequential order to show website visitors.
That task is daunting enough.
But, as if to console me in the fact that not even the publisher itself could keep track of all this, I have discovered (mostly courtesy of bewildered scan contributors) that duplicated book numbers are so numerous that I can't even count them all. Most of the duplications seemed to strike in the 1960's in the "2000's" numbers, but there were some later ones, too.
There was also a group of books beginning with zeroes, and some collectors seem to believe, for example, that Bantam Q2048 SHOULD have been numbered 02048. Maybe the "tail" of the capital "Q" kept creeping in there by mistake. Anyway, there is also a completely different book numbered A2048, which is just one of the many, many duplicated designations.
(My thanks and sympathy for Brian Maginnity, who suffered with this dilemma as well over the past several months.)
(Brian submitted all the scans on this page except A2048)
Tom Daniels, the webmaster of The Louis L'Amour Collector website, wrote to me in an effort to make sense of all this (though it is of little consolation when I am sorting through all those sub-groups on my computer). Now that he's analyzed it for me, allow me to explain what I call:
The Bantam Numbering Anomaly
First, based on Tom's explanations, I'll address the large list of duplicate numbers. In early 1975, Bantam ran out of numbers. I'm not sure where all those numbers went ... for example, I have very few scans of books in the 9000's range ... but for some reason, Bantam started repeating numbers (beginning in the 2000's) that year. By this period, a book's number was actually the middle part of the ISBN on the front cover, but it was usually printed as a stand-alone number on the spine. This system had been going on since 1969. Also, since the average cost of a paperback in 1975 was $1.25, many of these numbers contained a "Q" prefix, which designated that price. A year later, in 1976, Bantam went to a five-digit numbering system, and the problem was solved. In many of these number duplications, it is VERY evident that one was printed substantially after the other.
In the Bantam folder in BookScans, where this occurs, I have assumed that the newer book was part of this 1975-specific problem, and I have redesignated the book as part of the five-digit series, beginning with a preceding zero. So, for example, you will see scans in the "02000" folder such as "02140(Q2140)." The number in parenthesis is the actual number displayed on the book.
Next, I will present:
Tom Daniel's list of Bantam prefixes:
letter prefix) = 25c (unless it was a "Bantam Special Edition")