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.
This is the back cover of Bantam A868, The Grapes of Wrath, shown above.
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 provides images for the BookScans "TWINS" Section, which illustrates the use of "recycled" cover artwork during the Vintage Period. More than 16,000 scans of paperback and pulp magazine covers are included.
The cover above left is Avon's MMM #32. Here is the re-used artwork in MMM #39.
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. Please follow the link on the left to see how to contribute a scan. Thanks.
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 more than 11,000 scans of adult-only books published in the 1950's and 60's.
4,180 scans added in June!
Many, many thanks to contributors of cover scans and information during the past four months:
Achim von Wiedner, Anonymous,Bill Taylor, Bob Gaines, Brian Maginnity, Brooks Williams, The CA Kid, Doug Holmes, Grant Thiessen, Gunnar Olsen, Hooked on Books, Jan Ole Braathen, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Hatch, Ken W, Kenneth R. Johnson, Rick Beckham, Steve Caldwell, Steve Ericson and Tzofit Goldfarb.
The total number of unique images is now over 133,000.
That figure includes more than:
128,000 vintage paperback cover images
5,000 reference books & publications
I will try to update the BookScans web site three times a year: in February, June and October.
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.
The Reference Library
I am in the process of completely updating the The BookScans Reference Library, which contains scans of more than 5,000 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.
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.
Ken has just updated The Digest Index! Check it out!
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!
Can You Help Identify These Cover 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.
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This page was updated in June, 2022