|Parent company||Random House|
|Founder||Walter B. Pitkin, Jr.|
Sidney B. Kramer
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City, New York|
Bantam Books is an American publishing house owned entirely by parent company Random House, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House; it is an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group. It was formed in 1945 by Walter B. Pitkin, Jr., Sidney B. Kramer, and Ian and Betty Ballantine, with funding from Grosset & Dunlap and Curtis Publishing Company. It has since been purchased several times by companies including National General, Carl Lindner's American Financial and, most recently, Bertelsmann; it became part of Random House in 1998, when Bertelsmann purchased it to form Bantam Doubleday Dell. It began as a mass market publisher, mostly of reprints of hardcover books, with some original paperbacks as well. It expanded into both trade paperback and hardcover books, including original works, often reprinted in house as mass-market editions.
The company was failing when Oscar Dystel, who had previously worked at Esquire and as editor on Coronet magazine was hired in 1954 to manage it. By the end of the next year the company was profitable. Dystel retired as chairman in 1980. By that time Bantam was the largest publisher of paperbacks, had over 15% of the market, and exceeded US$100 million in sales.
In 1964, Grosset & Dunlap acquired full ownership of Bantam from Curtis. In 1968, Grosset & Dunlap was acquired by conglomerate National General, run by Gene Klein. National General was acquired by American Financial Group in 1973. American Financial sold Bantam to the Italian firm IFI in 1974. Bertelsmann acquired half of Bantam in 1977 and assumed full ownership in 1980. In 1986, Bertelsmann acquired Doubleday & Company and created the holding Bantam Doubleday Dell. In 1998, Bertelsmann acquired Random House from Advance Publications; Random House became the name of the holding company. After the merger, Bantam was merged with Dell Publishing. Bantam Dell became part of the Random House publishing group in 2008. Ballantine Books was merged with Bantam Dell in 2010. In 2013, Random House merged with Penguin to form Penguin Random House.
Bantam has published the entire original run of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of children's books, as well as the first original novels based upon the Star Trek franchise, publishing about a dozen such books between 1970 and 1982, when the license was taken over by Pocket Books. Bantam also published a dozen volumes of short story adaptations of scripts from Star Trek: The Original Series. Bantam was the former American paperback publisher of The Guinness Book of Records. Another series was "Bantam War Book" from the 1970s to the 90s, with the majority of books from World War II, but also from Vietnam, Korea and other conflicts.
Other series include Bantam Classics, the Bantam Spectra science fiction imprint, the juvenile Skylark imprint, and editions of Shakespeare.
The series was started in 1958. It reprints mostly public domain, unabridged classic books, intended to increase backlist sales and reintroduce the works to new audiences. More than a hundred books have been released in the series.
Like competing editions, some Bantam Classics are printed with an introduction from a literary critic, and in the case of Moby Dick, with a selection of critical essays on the novel appended as well.
Authors originally published exclusively or significantly by Bantam include:
... combined sharp editorial judgments, shrewd marketing and attention-grabbing covers to propel Bantam Books from the brink of collapse to pre-eminence in paperback publishing after World War II ...