|Parent company||Penguin Group (Penguin Random House)|
|Founder||Charles Byrne and Frederic Klein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
|Imprints||Ace, Jove, New American Library|
Berkley Books began as an independent company in 1955. It was founded as "Chic News Company" by Charles Byrne and Frederick Klein, who had worked for Avon; they quickly renamed it Berkley Publishing Co. The new name was a coinage, meant to echo their surnames, unrelated to either the philosopher or the city in California (both spelled Berkeley). Under their editor in chief Thomas Dardis, over the next few years Berkley developed a diverse line of popular fiction and non-fiction, both reprints and mass-market paperback originals, with a particularly strong history in science fiction (books of Robert A. Heinlein and Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, for example). The company was bought in 1965 by G. P. Putnam's Sons and in years to follow undertook a hardcover line under the Berkley imprint, chiefly but not only for science fiction. For example, [Merle Miller]’s [Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman] (1973), and [The Search for J.F.K.] by Joan and [Clay Blair Jr.] (1976) were substantial nonfiction books under that imprint. When Putnam bought Grosset & Dunlap and Playboy Press, the [Jove], Ace and Playboy Press paperback lists were added to that of Berkley; the Playboy list was eventually absorbed into Berkley, while the Jove and Ace lists have continued as distinct imprints.
Following its publication (1985) of the paperback reprint edition of Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, Berkley Books became increasingly interested in publishing military combat fiction and technothrillers; its publicity campaigns at military bases contributed to the success of its reprint edition of Dale Brown's Flight of the Old Dog. The Penguin Group purchased Putnam in 1996. When Penguin merged with Random House in 2013 to form Penguin Random House, Berkley was integrated with the larger paperback line New American Library; the Berkley name was retained for that whole program, which is part of PRH's Penguin Adult group, and publishes in mass-market paperback, trade paperback, and hardcover formats. The Penguin Group purchased Putnam in 1996. Penguin merged with Random House in 2013 to form Penguin Random House. Today, Berkley is part of PRH's Penguin Adult group and prints in mass-market paperback, trade paperback, and hardcover formats.
In December 2008, Berkley cancelled the publication of the Herman Rosenblat Holocaust memoir titled Angel at the Fence when it was discovered that the book's central events were untrue. In 2011, Berkley Books launched its ebook imprint InterMix. In September 2012, Berkley Books announced that a trilogy of erotic romance novels by Maya Banks had been acquired for publishing. Her trilogy was described as similar to the Fifty Shades trilogy, featuring three billionaires.
In 2015, the sister paperback group New American Library was merged into Berkley. In April 2015, Berkley Books signed the self-published author Jasinda Wilder. In January 2016, Berkley was merged into Penguin's Putnam/Dutton. Ivan Held replaced Leslie Gelbman as president of Berkley Books. In 2020, Berkley Books announced two new horror books by Grady Hendrix.
Its major authors have included:
- 1976-1977: Bionic Woman PB (Berkley Novel)
- 1977: From the Land Beyond Beyond SC: The Films of Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen
- 1988: New Comics SC
- 1998: X-Men Empire's End PB (Berkley Novel)
- Robert D. McFadden, Walter J. Minton, Publisher Who Defied Censors, Dies at 96, Nytimes.com, 20 November 2019
- "History of Berkley Books on the Penguin Group (USA) website". Archived from the original on March 15, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2006.
- "Publication of disputed Holocaust memoir canceled". Associated Press. December 27, 2008. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
- Motoko Rich, Brian Stelter, As Another Memoir Is Faked, Trust Suffers, Nytimes.com, 30 December 2008
- Berkley/NAL to Launch E-book Imprint, InterMix, Publishersweekly.com, 19 October 2011
- Tara Fowler, 'Fifty Shades' Watch: Erotic book trilogy sells for seven figures, Ew.com, 17 September 2012
- Mike Fleming Jr, Cliterature Cash! Maya Banks Gets 7-Figures For 'Fifty Shades'-Like Erotic Book Trilogy, Deadline.com, 17 September 2012 |accessdate=August 16, 2015
- "Penguin Merges Berkley, NAL". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
- Berkley and New American Library Combined, Locusmag.com, 26 June 2015
- Alison Flood, Self-published star Jasinda Wilder lands seven-figure deal with traditional imprint, Theguardian.com, 7 April 2015
- Carolyn Kellogg, Two self-published successes sign with major publishers, Latimes.com, 7 April 2015
- Calvin Reid, Penguin Merges Berkley Into Putnam/Dutton, Publishersweekly.com, 12 January 2016
- Berkley Announces Two New Horror Novels by Grady Hendrix, Tor.com, 24 June 2020
- McDowell, Edwin (May 13, 1988). "Book notes". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2011.