Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Make mine a double

I write because I love to read. I read because when I was a kid I saw a lot of books with covers that made me want to be able to read what was behind the covers.

In the early '50s, about the time I was learning to read, the spinner racks in grocery and drug stores were full of paperback books; it was a golden age. I loved looking at the lurid crime and science fiction stuff. I've already written before about being a space cadet. The oldest existing story I ever wrote is a science fiction story called "Zero Hour."

Ace Books were published by the A.A. Wyn Company. Donald Wollheim was the editor. In the early 1950s someone came up with a really great idea. You put two books together, but only charge 10¢ more than a single book. At the time, almost all paperback books were 25¢. The books were bound in the dos-à-dos format so that no matter which you were reading, the other book was upside down. In order to read it you had to flip the book over. Very clever marketing, and very successful for Ace for a couple of decades.

These are some covers from Ace Doubles of the many I have collected over the years.

Ace also published westerns and mystery novels in the Doubles series. Drop Dead (1954), backed with The Case of the Hated Senator (1953) is a book I picked up today in a thrift store. Ace Double Novels are getting harder and harder to find in such places, so I get whatever I can find when I see them.

The Ace Double Novels were one of the reasons I wanted to learn to read. Nowadays I can't find time to read them, but I love looking at the covers, just as I did before I could read. Full circle, or more likely, flipped over.

No comments: