New Vintage paperback series marks 50 years in the book business
Here's an interesting bit of literary trivia: trade paperback books those appealing, affordable little volumes that bibliophiles just love to collect first made their way onto the market in 1954. That year, publishing magnate Alfred A. Knopf announced a debut list of very special titles, a group of hardback classics that would be reissued in handsome paperbound editions by a new division of his company. That imprint was none other than Vintage Books, and its inauguration 50 years ago was a watershed moment in the world of literature. Of course, readers are now familiar with the Vintage miracle the magical transformation of great hardcover titles into irresistible paperbacks, complete with eye-catching jackets and distinctive typefaces.
Now, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, Vintage is giving book lovers another reason to browse the shelves: Vintage Readers, a group of attractive, budget-friendly anthologies designed to give an overview of a particular author's work. Vintage Readers covers an international roster of writers, with volumes on V.S. Naipaul, Martin Amis, Joan Didion, Richard Ford, Haruki Murakami, Langston Hughes, Oliver Sacks and others. Each of these special literary samplers offers selections of essays, short stories, poems and novel excerpts, featuring lesser-known material and work never before collected in book form. The volumes also include brief author biographies. There are 12 books in the series so far, each just over 200 pages in length and priced at $9.95. This month, BookPage pays tribute to the Vintage vision by spotlighting some of the entries in the new lineup.
A favorite with fiction lovers, best-selling author Cisneros is a one-of-a-kind writer whose work distills the Latina experience. Cisneros' work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she has won numerous awards. Vintage Cisneros, with excerpts from the novels Caramelo and The House on Mango Street, poems from My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Women, and stories from Women Hollering Creek, is the perfect introduction to one of the strongest voices in contemporary literature.
A groundbreaking African-American author, Baldwin produced classic works of both fiction and nonfiction over the course of his career. His writings on race during the 1960s were definitive, provocative and explosive, and they're featured in Vintage Baldwin, which includes excerpts from his nonfiction works Nobody Knows My Name and The Fire Next Time. Baldwin's fiction is also represented here, with the timeless short story "Sonny's Blues" and an excerpt from the novel Another Country.
Although he made his name as an essayist and nature writer, Lopez has also produced several masterful collections of short stories. Vintage Lopez provides a broad sampling of his work, with choice pieces from the nonfiction books About This Life and Crossing Open Ground, as well as the National Book Award-winning Arctic Dreams. The volume also features a generous helping of Lopez's fiction, with stories from Field Notes and his recent book Light Action in the Caribbean.
Mistress of the modern short story, Munro writes narratives brimming with crystalline moments of revelation. This National Book Award-winning writer has earned international acclaim by bringing her corner of Canada to life. Vintage Munrospans the beloved author's long and distinguished career, featuring stories from much-praised collections like The Moons of Jupiter, The Progress of Love, Open Secrets and her most recent book, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.