Albatross Books

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Albatross Books was a German publishing house based in Hamburg that produced the first modern mass market paperback books.

Albatross was founded in 1932 by John Holroyd-Reece, Max Wegner and Kurt Enoch. The name was chosen because "Albatross" is the same word in many European languages. Based on the example of Tauchnitz, a Leipzig publishing firm that had been producing inexpensive and paperbound English-language reprints for the continental market, Albatross set out to streamline and modernize the paperback format.

The books in the series were produced in a new standardized size (181 x 111 mm), which approximated the esthetically pleasing ratio called the Golden Mean. They used new sans-serif fonts developed by Stanley Morison among others, and were color-coded by genre, with green for travel, orange for fiction, and so on. The series was so successful that Albatross soon purchased Tauchnitz, giving itself an instant 100-year heritage.

The outbreak of World War II brought the Albatross experiment to an end, but by then Allen Lane had adopted many of Albatross's ideas, including the standard size, the idea of covers using typography and logo but no illustrations, and the use of color coding by type of content, for Penguin Books. Lane later hired Kurt Enoch, co-founder of Albatross Books, to manage Penguin's American branch.

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