Ian Ballantine

Ian Keith Ballantine (February 15, 1916 – March 9, 1995) was a pioneering American publisher who founded and published the paperback line of Ballantine Books from 1952 to 1974 with his wife, Betty Ballantine. The Ballantines were both inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, with a shared citation.[1]

Ian Ballantine
Ballantine Books promotional photo
Ian Keith Ballantine

February 15, 1916
New York City, New York, United States
DiedMarch 9, 1995(1995-03-09) (aged 79)
United States
EducationColumbia University
Known forBallantine Books
Spouse(s)Betty Ballantine
ChildrenRichard Ballantine
Parent(s)Stella Commins Ballantine
Edward James Ballantine


Born in New York City, the son of Stella Commins Ballantine (half-niece of anarchist Emma Goldman) and the Scottish actor and sculptor Edward James Ballantine, Ian Ballantine received his undergraduate degree from Columbia College and his graduate degree from the London School of Economics. His Master's thesis featured the possibilities of paperback printing.[2]

In 1939, the year of his marriage to Elizabeth "Betty" Norah, he initiated the distribution of Penguin Books in the United States (Penguin U.S. was later renamed New American Library). As a team, the Ballantines were involved in the formation of Bantam Books in 1945, and he was the first president of Bantam from 1945 to 1952.[3]

Ballantine Books was one of the earliest publishers of science fiction paperback originals, with writers including Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl. During the 1960s, they published the first authorized paperback edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's books. Lin Carter edited their Ballantine Adult Fantasy series of classics by H. P. Lovecraft and others in the 1970s.

From 1968 through 1975 Ballantine Books published a series of 156 paperbook books under the series title "Ballantine's Illustrated History of World War II", later retitled "Ballantine's Illustrated History of the Violent Century". These were printed in both the United States and United Kingdom.

In the 1980s, Bantam books published an 18 book series on the Vietnam war in the same trade paperback format as the earlier Ballantine series, featuring color photographs.

After Ballantine Books was acquired by Random House in 1973, the Ballantines became freelance consulting editors and publishers during the 1970s. Ian and Betty Ballantine won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant and other creators of The High Kings (Bantam, 1983), a reference book on the Matter of Britain that incorporates retellings. (It was also a runner-up in nonfiction Hugo and Locus Award categories.)[4][5] Their son Richard Ballantine was an author and journalist specializing in cycling topics.

Ballantine Books has a backlist of more than 3,000 titles, and its imprints include Ballantine Books, Ballantine Reader's Circle, Del Rey, Del Rey/LucasBooks, Fawcett, Ivy, One World and Wellspring.

Ian Ballantine was 79 when he died of a heart attack in 1995.[6] The speakers at his May 12, 1995, memorial service included Bantam Books publisher Irwyn Applebaum, Ballantine Books vice president George Davidson and Penguin Group chief executive Peter Mayer.


  1. ^ ""2008 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Ceremony Tickets On Sale May 15"". Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-21.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). Press release April/May 2008. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (empsfm.org). Archived 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  2. ^ ""Paperback Publishers"". Archived from the original on 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2013-07-03.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). Hyde Park Books. Archived 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2017-06-02.
  3. ^ "How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read | Mental Floss". Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  4. ^ "Ballantine, Ian" Archived 2010-09-01 at the Wayback Machine. The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved 2013-04-07.
  5. ^ The High Kings title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  6. ^ Mary B. W. Tabor (March 10, 1995). "Ian Ballantine, 79, a Publisher Who Led Move Into Paperbacks". The New York Times.

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