Belmont Books (1960 – 1969)
In May 1960, the Archie Comics Publications company, which had made Archie comics since the 1940′s, formed a paperback company called Belmont Productions, Inc.
The owners located at 66 Leonard Street in New York (actually the entire third floor, see New York Times, 13 September 1961).
Gauging the rapid and rabid appetite for “cheap paperback books” they jumped on the band wagon. These were a bit cleaner and nicer than the “pulps” of the previous era, and fit neatly into drug stores and discount racks. Small retailers found they were a way to make a fast turn on limited space.
Belmont’s view of the market was solidly business based, and put out 4 books a month that appealed to sensational and lurid interests for mostly young male audiences. One assumes they were particularly appealing to the college crowd.
Starting in August 1960, Belmont issued four titles each month, both reprints and original fiction and nonfiction.
Left wing politics, mobsters, recycled horror tales, low brow science fiction, and tag-alongs to the growing prurience started by Hefner’s Playboy phenomenon was all part of the process.
Along the way they provided real-world experience for up and coming writers, and a way for in-between contract writers to pick up a little extra income. V Fort instance, a young man named John Jakes did one (#203 Johnny Havoc), who also did quick Sword and Sorcery before hitting the best seller lists with his Bicentennial series years later.
August Derleth, always watching the market, placed Robert Block stories into Belmont. Belmont was eager, as Bloch’s name was stellar now that Hitchcock’s Psycho was doing well at the box office.
After a fast run, paper began to creep in price. The 35 cent titles went to 50 cents. They would soon escalate to 60 cents, 75 cents, and beyond effectively dampening the profits. In 1969 Belmont merged with Tower Publications to keep making a go of it.