R.I.P. Book Publisher Betty Ballantine

Betty Ballantine, who helped popularize modern paperback, dies at 99

I got a laugh out of this:

One memorable Ballantine release was inspired by a hoax. In 1956, nighttime radio personality Jean Shepherd was telling listeners that they should ask for a new novel called “I, Libertine,” by Frederick R. Ewing. Best-sellers at the time were based in part on requests at bookstores and demand was so high that “I, Libertine” appeared on some lists.

But, as Shepherd’s fans knew, and the public only later found out, neither book nor author existed. So Ian Ballantine convinced a friend, science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, to write — and write quickly — an actual “I, Libertine.” Shepherd, who provided the book’s outline, recalled years later that Sturgeon worked so hard he fell asleep before he finished the manuscript. Betty Ballantine stepped in, handled the last chapter and “I, Libertine” went to print.

Ah, those were the days.

R.I.P. and thank you for all the books.

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2 Responses to R.I.P. Book Publisher Betty Ballantine

  1. When I was a lowly editorial assistant at Bantam Books, Ian Ballantine stopped by looking for my editor. This was iin 1987 and he was ancient even THEN. The Ballantines were an amazing gift to publishing.

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