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, which in 1986 purchased what had grown to become the Bantam Doubleday Dell publishing group. Bertelsmann purchased Random House in 1998, and in 1999 merged the Bantam and Dell imprints (amongst other mergers within the sprawling publishing house) to become the Bantam Dell publishing imprint. In 2010, the Bantam Dell division was consolidated with Ballantine Books (founded in 1952 by Bantam co-founders Ian and Betty Ballantine) to form the Ballantine Bantam Dell group within Random House.[1] By no later than February 2015, Bantam Books had re-emerged as a stand-alone imprint within Random House;[2] as of 2023, it continues to publish as the Bantam imprint, again grouped in a renamed Ballantine division within Random House.

Bantam Books
Parent companyRandom House
Founded1945; 79 years ago (1945)
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationNew York City, New York, U.S.
Official Edit this at Wikidata

Bantam 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.[3]

The company was involved in an important Supreme Court case, Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan in 1963. Bantam Books was prevented from distributing some of its publications in Rhode Island by a state commission called the Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth. The commission, headed by the Rhode Island Attorney General, would essentially blacklist books and magazines it deemed "objectionable" for sale, threatening distributors with publicity and reputational harm. Bantam Books sued, arguing this commission violated freedom of press protections and amounted to illegal censorship without due process. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Bantam Books, deciding that the commission's blacklisting practice constituted an unlawful prior restraint on free expression in violation of the First Amendment. The Court held that any system of prior censorship on publications "strikes at the very foundation of freedom of expression" and cannot be enforced unless regulated by precise rules with procedural safeguards. This was an influential decision reinforcing First Amendment protections against government censorship of published materials.

In 1964, Grosset & Dunlap acquired full ownership of Bantam from Curtis.[4] In 1968, Grosset & Dunlap was acquired by conglomerate National General, run by Gene Klein.[5] National General was acquired by American Financial Group in 1973.[6] American Financial sold Bantam to the Italian firm IFI in 1974.[7] Bertelsmann acquired half of Bantam in 1977 and assumed full ownership in 1980.[8][9] IN 1986, Bantam began publishing audiobooks.[10] In 1986, Bertelsmann acquired Doubleday & Company and created the holding Bantam Doubleday Dell.[11] In 1998, Bertelsmann acquired Random House from Advance Publications; Random House became the name of the overall holding company of the various publishing imprints.[12][13] In 1999, Bertelsmann merged some of the many publishing units it held in Random House, including a merger of Bantam with Dell Publishing, forming the Bantam Dell publishing imprint.[14] Bantam Dell became part of the Random House publishing group in 2008.[15] Ballantine Books was merged with Bantam Dell in 2010.[16] In 2013, Random House merged with Penguin to form Penguin Random House.[17]

Books published


Bantam has published the entire original run of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of children's books,[18][19] 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 1990s, 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, the Bantam Air & Space imprint, and editions of Shakespeare.

Bantam Classics


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.[20]

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.[21]



Authors originally published exclusively or significantly by Bantam include:

Books originally published by Bantam


See also



  1. ^ Cader, Michael (2010-04-13). "Ballantine and Bantam Dell Come Together Under McGuire". Publishers Lunch. Archived from the original on 2023-11-02. Retrieved 2023-11-07. consolidating the Ballantine and Bantam Dell lines into a new Ballantine Bantam Dell group. Libby McGuire will run the merged division as svp, publisher, and Bantam Dell evp
  2. ^ "Our Imprints". 2015-02-28. Archived from the original on 2015-02-28. Retrieved 2023-11-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (May 29, 2014). "Oscar Dystel, Who Saved Bantam Books, Dies at 101". The New York Times. p. B19. Retrieved May 29, 2014. ... 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 ...
  4. ^ "Curtis Sells Stake in 3 Book Concerns". The New York Times. 1964-02-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  5. ^ "Grosset & Dunlap, Publisher, Acquired by National General". The New York Times. 1968-03-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  6. ^ Wilcke, Gerd (1973-11-08). "$32.7-Million Deal Completed By British Unit of Sterling Drug". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  7. ^ "Italians Buy Bantam". The New York Times. 1974-11-29. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  8. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (1977-09-08). "Bertelsmann Group Buys Control Of Bantam Books From Italians". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  9. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Arab Investors Fail In Bank Group Bid Bertelsmann Buys All of Bantam Books Kodak Sees Stability In Silver Markets American Financial Votes Incentive Plan 2d Cavenham Letter On Diamond Merger Itel in Debt Accord Engelhard Hints Hunt Oil Land Swap COMPANY BRIEFS". The New York Times. 1980-05-08. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  10. ^ Brooke, James (1985-07-02). "LISTENED TO ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  11. ^ Tagliabue, John (1984-07-23). "German Publisher Widens U.s. Role". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  12. ^ Andrews, Edmund L. (March 29, 1998). "The World: Bertelsmann Swallows Random House; American Pop Culture, Foreign-Owned". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-02-14. Retrieved August 22, 2014. Bertelsmann… [B]efore acquiring Random House… in 1986 bought Bantam Doubleday Dell, the country's fifth-largest commercial book publisher
  13. ^ Random House Company History, from Archived 4 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 13, 2008.
  14. ^ Carvajal, Doreen (1999-05-28). "Bertelsmann Is Reorganizing Random House". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2019-01-20. to merge eight of its publishing units into four groups or divisions, including a combination of Bantam Books… and Dell Publishing
  15. ^ "Massive Reorganization at Random House: Steve Rubin, Irwyn Applebaum Step Down; Doubleday and Bantam Divisions Dismantled". Observer. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  16. ^ "Ballantine and Bantam Dell Come Together Under McGuire". Publishers Lunch. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  17. ^ Bosman, Julie (2013-07-01). "Penguin and Random House Merge, Saying Change Will Come Slowly". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  18. ^ Lodge, Sally (Jan 18, 2007). "Chooseco Embarks on Its Own Adventure". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2008.
  19. ^ Aljean Harmetz (August 25, 1981). "Choose Your Own Adventure and Make Your Own Ending". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  20. ^ "Lewiston Morning Tribune - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  21. ^ Melville, Herman (1981). Walcutt, Charles Child (ed.). Moby-Dick (Bantam Classics ed.). Bantam. pp. viii–xii, 549–593. ISBN 0553213113.