Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fleming in the '80s and the case of the curious Casino

With the rebirth of the literary James Bond in 1981 with John Gardner's License Renewed, the time was right to refresh the original Ian Fleming series in the USA. (Previous Fleming paperbacks had sported the attractive but somewhat dated cover paintings by Barnett Plotkin.) What we got were these ten paperbacks from Berkley with cover art in the same series style as the Gardner books (the rights to the final four books were still held by Signet). These new paperbacks rolled out between May and August 1982 and would be reprinted until 1987. Later editions would carry the Charter publishing brand (the photos below are all Charter editions).

There are a few things to note if you're looking to collect this series. First, the odd book out was definitely Moonraker, which for some reason didn't make its appearance until August 1984. Why it was delayed I have no idea. I bought all these back in the day so I've never had to do a search for them, but I suspect Moonraker might be the hardest of these to find today, especially in its first Berkley edition.

Also, there are at least three cover variations of For Your Eyes Only. The first is the regular Berkley edition published in August 1982. Then there is the 1985 movie tie-in edition with a notation below the title saying it features the short story "From A View To A Kill", as well as a cover band promoting the Roger Moore Bond film, A View To A Kill. The later Charter edition would drop the movie band, but keep the "From A View To A Kill" short story notation (that edition is pictured above).

And then there is the case of the curious Casino Royale (left), dated October 1986. You'll note that it is different from the regular Casino, sporting a yellow cover and the 007 silhouette from the License Renewed paperback. It also has no price or publisher information. That's because this particular Casino Royale was given away as a promotional freebie with the purchase of the U.S. hardcover edition of John Gardner's No Deals, Mr. Bond (1987).

Of course, no set of these can be considered complete without this unique Casino giveaway. The good news is this book has not really become a hard-to-find collectible (despite what I thought at the time). I'm surprised how many I see on used bookstore shelves and on eBay.

These covers would stand throughout the '90s, which was the first decade to not see a Fleming cover refresh in the USA. The next time Fleming hit bookstores shelves in the U.S. would be in 2002 with the retro style covers by Richie Fahey.

Berkley U.S. paperback publication order:

Casino Royale - May 1982
Live And Let Die - May 1982
Diamonds Are Forever - May 1982
From Russia With Love - May 1982
Doctor No - May 1982
Goldfinger - May 1982
Thunderball - June 1982
The Spy Who Loved Me - July 1982
For Your Eyes Only - August 1982
Moonraker - August 1984
Casino Royale (No Deals Mr. Bond tie-in freebie) - October 1986


  1. True. They're not beauties. But they so represent a time and place in the history of the lit Bond -- '80s color, Gardner series art -- and they were around for so long... I've come to like them. :)

  2. The Moonraker cover seems to use material from a photo shoot that also was used for Gardner's ICEBREAKER. The style in sharp contrast shadow is similar, the clothes seem to be casual or BDU style and the gun looks like a non-suppressed Walther P38 with a distinctive barrel that's not covered by the slide.

  3. Good catch, harrymillar. While it's not exactly the same silhouette from Icebreaker, yes, it certainly has all the same unique characteristics. Just another feature that makes the Moonraker the odd man out in this set.

  4. Perhaps it's because they're the first Flemings I bought, but I happen to like these covers a lot. They might even be my favorites, and I think they're quite effective, for the following reasons:

    1. The text is extremely prominent and well-placed, giving ample space to "James Bond" and "Ian Fleming."

    2. The color scheme might be a trifle loud, but it certainly catches your eye. You can hardly miss these books in a store.

    3. The design is simple enough to be repeated, thereby emphasizing that this is a series. And that emphasis comes through more clearly than in any other design.

    4. The design is not only simple but elegant--three rows of text and a graphic--and leaves room for variation in the silhouettes. The latter are a terrific idea by the way. They pay tribute to the film's gunbarrel and Maurice Binder while also capturing the spirit of Fleming. Whereas other covers try to picture Bond, his women, or his world--something that should be left to the reader--these covers pay tribute to Fleming's idea of Bond as "the man who was only a silhouette."

  5. This is pure conjecture on my part but if I remember correctly, Jove Books was an imprint of Berkley Publishing. Jove first published the paperback of Christopher Wood's JAMES BOND and MOONRAKER in June of 1979. So perhaps the Berkley edition of Fleming's original MOONRAKER was pushed back as Berkley didn't want to "compete against themselves," so to speak, for space on store bookshelves.

  6. Great post, John! Keep up the good work. Love the information.

  7. Great, Thanks a lot for this!!

  8. I have this edition of Live And Let Die. It was butchered as I believe all American copies were until recently.

  9. Another great post, John, and an intriguing look at an era of Bond publishing too often overlooked. Like IA, I really like these covers, and for all the same reasons. They may be loud, but I don't think they're "awful" at all! These were the first Bond covers I ogled in bookstores when I first got into the character, and that Moonraker was the first Bond book I ever bought and read. (Though after that I bought mostly used Signet editions.) So there's a nostalgia element, true, but like IA said, the uniform design was so good that you couldn't miss these in the stores! And I think they're great design-wise. I still automatically think of the Book Bond as "Ian Fleming's Master Spy James Bond in..." and I really wish they'd kept that prominent Fleming possessive with the more recent continuation novels!

    Curse you, John, you're making me want to dig out my collection of this run. And that's bad news because those ones are now inconveniently buried (along with a bunch of Pans) on a bottom shelf behind two rows of TV DVDs...

  10. Slightly garish, but not unattractive covers. I've never come across them, but then all my copies are UK editions.

    Like IA says, most people probably prefer the covers they first started collecting. For me those were the Triad Panther editions from the 1970s featuring studio photos of the Bond girls with a gold painted handgun, which I seem to remember was an original as they didn't want to encourage people to buy Berettas or PPKs thanks to the cover art!

    In retrospect they're not great, but that's what I was brought up with, in addition to old Pan paperpacks from the 1960s.

  11. Thanks for all the comments, gang. It encourages me to do more blog posts like this. I love this kind of stuff. Glad to see there are others out there that do too. :)

    Hank - I really liked your theory about the Jove movie tie-in Moonraker being the reason for the delayed Fleming release. But then I realized Jove released a Fleming Moonraker with the Plotkin cover in 1981, so... But I like the way you think!

  12. You never cease to amaze me John. Wonderful post,


  13. The problem with your blogging, John, is that it makes me want to get back into serious collecting again! Have you blogged yet on the '70s Bantam paperbacks? Aside from the used dog-eared Signets I first bought in used bookshops and at flea markets in the early 70s, the Bantams were the first "new" Fleming/Markham paperbacks I bought "fresh" off the revolving wire rack of my hometown stationary and smoke shop. Great cover art!

  14. What about the MJF hardbacks published in the late 80's/early 90's?

  15. Been gradually getting the Gardner US firsts, and just as gradually getting to love these bright, bold, stark simple covers.

    If they'd done the whole set of fourteen of these babies I'd be all over them.

    Like "M @ tjbd" my first Fleming PBs were the (late?) 70's Triad Panther UK ones with a girl sitting on a gun. As a kid they somehow made me feel like I was reading something "for adults".

    Still my personal favorite set, and worth a mention as Gardner references them in LICENCE RENEWED.

  16. There were so many different great runs of paperbacks! It's a shame there were such few COMPLETE runs, though. I think what IA and M say, a lot of one's preference has to do with nostalgia for the first covers you bought or read. Though while I do feel nostalgic for this batch, since they were the current NEW editions when I started reading Fleming, I don't share that nostalgia for the Signets, which were generally the first versions I read, picked up in used bookstores. I'm a fan of most of the paperback batches: those Triads with the girls on the guns (what a great set they make!), these 80s Charters, the great 70s Bantams (my favorites of any that attempt to illustrate Bond himself), the original pulpy Pans, the Faheys, the earlier Signets before the uniform design, even the UK still-life series. I don't love the uniform Signets (though I certainly don't hate them), and I'm not really a huge fan of the Plotkins (though they have their appeal), but the only ones I outright DON'T like are the Sixties Pans with the simple designs (don't know how to describe them, but you know... the TB with the bullet hole in the guy's skin, etc.) and the 90s UK run with the individual objects (like the recalled Dr. No with the knife). But it's so subjective! What are other people's favorites/least favorites?

  17. You guys have put me in the mood to do something about this girl on gun UK series.

    Luke, what's that about Gardner referencing them in License Renewed?

    Also, my collection of these consistes of a mix of white covers and black covers. Can anyone tell me if they were first released in white and then later in black, or were they always a mix?

  18. John,

    Scene with Bond and Q'ute at the firing range, she says "I don't go for those paperback books with pictures of girls sitting on large guns, or even astride them". I always took it that she was talking about these (they would have been the most recent PBs in 1980-1, no?)

    Re, the colours. I think you and I have discussed this before (eons ago) and concluded that it was always a mix:

    White: CR, DN, GF, OHMSS, TMWTGG, etc
    Black: LALD, DAF, FRWL, TB, TSWLM, etc

  19. I've wanted to read the Bond books forever, and I've recently started reading them. These are the covers I've been collecting by chance of what I bought. I was wondering if you could post the ISBN's of these covers. I already have Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, and Moonraker in these covers and I'd really love for all of my books to match and it's difficult to find specific cover art online without the ISBN.
    As far as the coverart is concerned, I kind of like it. As a girl, I like reading Bond without the cover being a girl straddling a gun. And I find something strangely interesting about the juxtaposition of the bright poppy colors with the book content.

  20. Just started collecting this set and was curious why the printing stopped after 10 books. Your blog post was the only one that answered my question. Thanks!