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Pocket Books

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Pocket Books is a publishing imprint, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. It is the imprint under which all current Star Trek mass-market paperback novels are published. It also released hardcover and trade paperback novels and reference works until an editorial reorganization at Simon & Schuster in 2009, when those formats were incorporated into a new imprint, Gallery Books.

The origins of the company date back to 1939, with the publication of the first paperback books in the US by Robert Fair de Graff. Previously, books were only published in hardcover, and often priced at several dollars apiece – beyond the means of most people during the Depression. The success of paperback publishing in Germany and the UK led to de Graff's efforts, which, being sold at 25 cents each, were much more affordable. In addition to carefully selecting his titles, de Graff sought to establish new channels of distribution, such as drug stores, five and dime stores, and department stores – all places that, prior to his efforts, had not sold books. de Graff presented his idea to several publishers before Simon & Schuster decided it was worth a look. To this end, Pocket Books was formed.

Simon & Schuster purchased the company in 1966. In 1975, Simon & Schuster, and thus Pocket Books, was sold to Gulf+Western (which had also bought Paramount Pictures in 1966), and was incorporated into Viacom in 2002.

The Pocket Books logo is a kangaroo named "Gertrude".

The Star Trek license Edit

Pocket acquired the license to publish Star Trek fiction in 1978 when Gulf+Western requested the development of a Star Trek book line as a promotional tie-in for the first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A total of sixteen titles, both novels and reference books, were intended to coincide with the premiere of the film, including one flippantly titled U.S.S. Enterprise Officer's Date Book (Playboy magazine, January 1980, p. 310). However, due to the film's mixed reception, only about half of these were ultimately released. One of these, the December 1979 novelization of that movie, was the company's first Star Trek novel, and marked the start of a long-running role for the company as the sole officially-licensed publisher for Star Trek novels in all formats.

David G. Hartwell was instrumental in getting the initial Star Trek license and authors for the series, and was the first editor of the line.

As the number of Star Trek series increased, and novels for each series slotted into the publishing schedule, Pocket reached a peak of publishing two mass-market paperbacks a month, a pattern which continued for ten years until 2005, when it was reduced to one per month.

On the title pages of many Star Trek novels from the early 2000s onward, a location from that novel is included as an additional Pocket Books office.

As already indicated, Pocket Books also retained the license to release Star Trek reference books in the US. Their first title was the 1979 Star Trek Speaks, published under the imprint "Wallaby Books"; a brand which, like the "Wanderer Books" imprint for juvenile readers, was used for Star Trek titles on occasion in that period. Publication outside the US was sub-licensed to (amongst others) Titan Books for the UK market, Heyne Verlag, VGS Verlag and Heel Verlag for the German market, Fanucci Editore for the Italian market, and Dai-X and Bunkasha for Japan, in translation where applicable. Incidentally, as if to reflect the popularity Star Trek enjoyed in these markets, Germany, Japan and, at some distance, Italy were the countries which saw the most translated reference book titles by far, starting with those published by Pocket Books.

Due to perceived diminishing interest in these kind of works, the number of new reference publications dropped sharply after 2002. Licenses to publish reference books were eventually extended to other publishers, starting in 2009 when Titan Books published Star Trek - The Art of the Film. Abrams Books and 47North have since also been contracted to release licensed Star Trek reference books.

Publications Edit

note: reference books in chronological order of year of first printing

Chronology and continuity in the Pocket novels Edit

Pocket's licensed novels are required to be consistent with on-screen canon, with CBS Consumer Products approving the outlines and manuscripts of each novel on that basis.

From the mid-1980s onward, there was a general belief that novels could not make significant character changes, such as the death of a character or a promotion contradicting an established on-screen rank. This has often been considered to have been the influence of Richard Arnold, although that is disputed.

However, novels were free to provide explanation for character changes and events that took place in canon, such as the Star Trek: The Lost Years miniseries which followed James T. Kirk's role as Chief of Starfleet Operations, as well as explaining other promotions such as Pavel Chekov's role as security chief.

A frequently-used concept in the Pocket Books novels of the 1980s was the existence of a second five-year voyage of the USS Enterprise under Captain Kirk (taking place either before or after The Motion Picture), something which was not stated in canon, but did not contradict the chronology known at the time. The 2005 novel Ex Machina and its follow-ups returned to this idea.

With the ending of the various television series, a greater degree of creative freedom saw the restriction on character change relaxed somewhat. This included the death of Kathryn Janeway in the novel Before Dishonor, and the Enterprise novels retconning Trip Tucker's death. This period also saw the novels developing into their own internal continuity, with Star Trek authors and Pocket Books editorial often collaborating to enhance consistency between various manuscripts.

Particularly with regard to The Original Series, it is generally accepted that the number of novels published means that the characters would not have had enough time to participate in all of the depicted adventures.

Star Trek Editors Edit

Further reading Edit

External links Edit

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