Ian Ballantine, a prolific publisher and one of the first to introduce inexpensive paperbacks to American readers, died of a heart attack Thursday at age 79.
Ballantine and his wife, Betty, launched three major paperback companies: Penguin U.S.A., Bantam Books and Ballantine books. He believed that people would read a variety of books if they were affordable and accessible.
Ballantine and his wife launched Penguin U.S.A. in 1939, reprinting imported classics such as H.G. Wells’ “Invisible Man.”
In 1945, they left Penguin to start Bantam Books. Their first list included “Life on the Mississippi” by Mark Twain, “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In 1952, they formed Ballantine books, which concentrated on paperback originals by such authors as Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke and J.R.R. Tolkien.
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