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Ian Ballantine

AKA Ian Keith Ballantine

Born: 15-Feb-1916
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 9-Mar-1995
Location of death: Bearsville, NY
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Publisher, Editor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Paperback magnate

Ian Ballantine helped change the perception of paperback books, which until his time had generally been synonymous with lurid "trash novels". In college he studied business, and wrote a paper predicting profits to be made from paperback publishing, and at 23 he was hired by Penguin Books, the first publisher of paperback editions of mainstream works. For several years Ballantine was responsible for Penguin's US distribution, importing from England books by authors including H. G. Wells and P. G. Wodehouse. With his wife Betty, Ballantine founded Bantam Books in 1945, a "reprint house" that specialized in paperback versions of classics by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, and Mark Twain. The books' low prices -- generally 25 in a time when hardcovers routinely sold for $2 -- made them brisk sellers even outside of bookstores, and the first books to be widely available in train stations, grocery stores, and other such locations.

Ian and Betty Ballantine founded Ballantine Books in 1952, which became the first publishing house to offer low-priced paperback editions of H. P. Lovecraft and original works by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Frederik Pohl, and other science fiction greats, as well as numerous fantasy and western titles. After J. R. R. Tolkien's rights to his Lord of the Rings trilogy lapsed, Tolkien's books were published without royalties by Ace Books, but Ballantine brought out authorized paperbacks that included a back-cover note from Tolkien himself: "Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it and no other." In 1974, Ballantine Books was sold to Random House, and Ian and Betty Ballantine rejoined Bantam.

His father, Edward Ballantine, was a long-time stage actor who appeared in the first Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion in 1914. Eugene O'Neill was a friend of Ballantine's parents, and on his mother's side Ballantine was a grand-nephew of noted anarchist Emma Goldman.

Father: Edward James Ballantine ("Teddy" or "E.J.", stage actor, b. 1888, d. 1968)
Mother: Stella Commins Ballantine
Brother: David Ballantine
Wife: Elizabeth Jones Ballantine ("Betty", b. 1919, m. 22-Jun-1939)
Son: Richard Ballantine (author)

    University: BS, Columbia University (1938)
    University: MBA, London School of Economics (1939)
    Teacher: Sociology, Columbia University (1969-70)

    World Fantasy Award 1975:(with Betty Ballantine)
    World Fantasy Award 1984:(with Betty Ballantine)
    Literary Marketplace Lifetime Achievement Award 1995:(with Betty Ballantine)
    Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame 2008
    Bantam Books Vice President (1974-95)
    Ballantine Books Founder & President (1952-74)
    Bantam Books President (1945-52)
    Penguin USA Books Director of Distribution (1939-45)
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    Jewish Ancestry (maternal)
    Scottish Ancestry (paternal)


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