Celebrating 70 years of Pan Paperbacks

25 August 2017

To mark the 70th anniversary of Pan paperbacks, twenty classic Pan titles are being re-issued in homage to the golden age of paperback publishing and with new cover designs in brilliant technicolour.

The first Pan paperback titles, twelve in all, were published in June 1947, the very first being Ten Stories by Rudyard Kipling - fittingly now the first of the 20 Classic Pan titles published to celebrate the Pan 70th Anniversary – with a logo based on a design by Mervyn Peake.

Pan Books was registered as a limited company on 1 September 1944 by Alan Bott, who also owned the Book Society. As well as being a decorated WWI hero, journalist and author, he is widely recognised as one of the commercial geniuses of the book trade. Pan later became jointly and equally owned by Collins, Heinemann, Hodder & Stoughton (briefly) and Macmillan and was to be the first serious challenger to Penguin, which had been founded nine years earlier, for the mass-market paperback audience. In sharp contrast to the Penguin covers, featuring the classic colour bands, Pan’s illustrative covers were unashamedly commercial as was their list. Due to post-War paper shortages, Pan initially printed books in France and they were shipped from Paris over the Channel and up the Thames to Kingston.

The 1950s and 60s saw surging sales of popular authors in Pan paperback, including Leslie Charteris, John le Carre, Colin Dexter, Georgette Heyer, Ian Fleming, Dick Francis, Peter O’Donnell, Alan Sillitoe, Neville Shute, and Leslie Thomas. The 1970s brought James Herriot, Arthur Hailey, Jack Higgins, George Macdonald Fraser, Tom Sharpe and Wilbur Smith. In the 1980s Douglas Adams, Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran were among the authors who joined the Pan list then, in the 1990s, Ken Follett, Carl Hiaasen and Elizabeth Jane Howard up to the present list of bestselling fiction and non-fiction writers.

Pan became solely owned by Macmillan in 1987, by which time publishing had become largely ‘vertical’, with companies publishing the same titles in both hardcover and paperback, rather than the few paperback houses shopping around for titles from hardback houses. In 1990 Pan merged with the Trade division of Macmillan to become Pan Macmillan.

Authors of the twenty special edition paperbacks include HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Buchan, James Herriot, Douglas Adams, Jeffrey Archer and Ken Follett. They are all out now, and priced at £7.00 each.

The Golden Pan Award, which was instituted in 1962 for any title selling over a million copies in the Pan paperback edition alone, has also been reintroduced in a slightly revised design for the 70th anniversary and has been given to authors who have sold over a million of a single title in all formats. Jeffrey Archer, Ken Follett, Julia Donaldson, Emma Donoghue and Joe Wicks were amongst those awarded the Golden Pan at our ceremony in Charing Cross. 

For further information, please contact Jacqui Graham: [email protected]
020 8450 2924/07973 884 290

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