Selling paperbacks with sex

Paperbacks for a long time were considered a little bit dirty.

As Two-Bit Culture by Kenneth Davis explains it, because they were cheap compared to hardbacks (just check out the prices below) they often took on risque material respectable publishers wouldn’t soil their fingers with. They’d also sell non-risque material by slapping on a sexy cover. In the film The Seven Year Itch, the protagonist’s publishing firm is reissuing Little Women as Secrets of a Girl’s Dormitory, with a cover bursting with nubile young beauties in negligees. I haven’t actually read Little Women but I’m pretty sure the image did not represent the spirit of the book.

So in that spirit, here are some paperback covers (and one pulp) inviting readers to ogle. First one in the classic “isn’t it lucky her hair fell right over the nipples” genre, artist uncredited. I’ve read another book in the same series, they’re actually enjoyable.

Next, one by Casey Jones in the category (based on what I could learn of the book) of “make it look much, much sexier than the contents.”

Third, a much classier one by Lawrence. I have no idea what the cover is about or why there’s a giant cat (or shrunken people).

Back to less than classy, with this Tom Miller image. I don’t know the contents, but it looks like the kind of once-edgy material only a paperback publisher would put out.

Here’s one by Robert McGinnis screaming Bad Girl Within.

And here’s one that conveys S-E-X with much less skin. Of course with that kind of “tell them what they’re getting up front” title, who needs it? I don’t know the artist.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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