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Universal Publishing, New York, 1964 to 1977
Under the leadership of Arnold E. Abramson, Universal Publishing put out what is today referred to as "soft-core porn" or "sleaze" books under digest labels such as Uni, Fiesta and Intimate, as well as the "large paperback" oddity Universal Giant. In 1954, he broke into mass market sleaze publishing with Beacon Books.
In the mid-60's, perhaps beginning to realize that the market for such books wouldn't sustain the company indefinitely, it was decided to try a new label of "legitimate" books. Award was the result.
Beside the normal mystery and western offerings, Award did very well with certain themes and series, the most popular of which were the Nick Carter "Killmaster" books. Offerings based on TV and movies were numerous, and the "No-Name" Cowboy (Clint Eastwood "Spaghetti Western") books are of special note. Gothic and supernatural themes were also prevalent. John Creasey's books were reprinted by Award.
Cover art was pretty unimaginative. A few of their sexier covers were eye-catching, as well as some of the fantasy novels, but generally, the covers are more graphics than illustration, especially later in the run.
Abramson's world seemed to come crashing down in the later 70's. He had acquired Galaxy and IF magazines from Robert Guinn in some sort of stock-swap, and afterwards, things just sort of deteriorated all over, financially.
Many thanks to Kenneth Johnson and the members of the Yahoo Vintage Paperback Group. Steve Lewis and Dan Roberts published an article about Award Books in Paperback Parade #66 (along with a checklist in issue #67).
This page was updated in June, 2012