Thursday, November 17, 2011

JAMES BOND in the '90s: the complete Coronet set

In 1995 Coronet revamped the James Bond series in the UK with vibrant new covers by David Scutt, Bill Gregory and Paul Robinson. This would be the last set to include Colonel Sun and the only set to include John Gardner and Raymond Benson titles. This series overlapped the end of the Gardner era and the beginning of Benson, so a handful of their first editions received the series treatment, as did two novelizations (kinda).

This Coronet series is notable in that it is the most complete set of James Bond books to date, and maybe the most complete set we'll ever get. Aren't they glorious!

There are a few curiosities in the Coronet set to watch out for. First and foremost are the two editions of Dr. No. According to some fine detective work by Devin Zydel on, rejected artwork by Bill Gregory depicting a knife in Honey's (?) hand was "mistakenly" used on the 9th edition only. Copies of Dr. No before and after feature the more common spider art by David Scutt. Not sure why this happened (or even how it could happen), but I personally prefer the knife artwork. This rogue Dr. No is definitely one to seek out (ISBN 0-340-41899-0).*

Coronet curiosities

Another paperback of interest is a 2003 omnibus containing the first three John Gardner books. Even though this was published well after the Coronet series had ended (and IFP were reissuing the books with new covers through Penguin), the book uses the old series logo and artwork from their 1995 For Special Services.

There was also an early plan to release John Gardner's novelization of GoldenEye with this series artwork (the prototype cover featured a bearded Pierce Brosnan). While the final Coronet GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies paperbacks would ultimately sport stand alone cover art, the spines would retain the James Bond Coronet series logo, so they still line up pretty well on the shelf with the other books and could still be considered part of this series. (There are two variations of TND, but I'll get into that when we get into novelizations as a set.)

Finally, for us completists, in 1998 a special Tomorrow Never Dies VHS box set was released in the UK that included a copy of the Raymond Benson Zero Minus Ten paperback from Coronet. The paperback is identical to the retail version, except for the lack of a barcode and ISBN on the back and the inclusion of the words: "Promotional Copy Not For Resale" (right). It's actually noted on the copyright page as being a first edition, so...

On a personal note, I've never been able to locate a copy (at a reasonable price) of Coronet's Win, Lose Or Die for my own collection. I believe it's the only John Gardner paperback that I'm missing. Can anyone help a brother out?

*UPDATE: Stewart Larking, the man who designed all these covers, got in touch with me to share The inside story of the two DR. NO covers.

Also read:


  1. - I'm not sure of the edition or quality, but for that price it's worth a punt.

  2. Thanks, Tom. I'm not 100% sure that's the right edition as that listing is just using a stock cover image. I've been burned before.

    There is one on eBay right now that has an actual pic, but it's at a price I don't consider reasonable, especially when I factor in shipping to the U.S. But I might break down.

  3. how about write up on the James Bond Classic Library hardcovers from the early 90s? Love those

  4. I actually don't have a set of those. Don't really have much info on them.

    Speaking of WLD, I've always found it's inclusions in this series to be strange. The first two Gardners, sure, and then the last two were published at the time of this series, so that makes sense. But why pluck one book from the middle and plop it in here? Would love to know the thinking.

  5. Yeah, WLDs inclusion sure seems, um, random. Like you say, SeaFire was the most recent book in 1995, so that gets a run. Of course, the other early 90s Gardners (and perhaps some of the older ones too) would have already had recent PB releases, and were probably deemed not due for another.

  6. Cool post, John! It's neat to see that whole set together. This is another one I've never collected--along with the still life Pans and the "simple" uniform cover Pans of the 60s. But unlike those ones, this one wasn't so much a conscious choice as an inopportune time. I was in college when these were being published, and not exactly flush with cash to import books. But seeing them together like this makes me want to! I don't LOVE the art, but it does look cool all together like that.

    Annoyingly, we actually got an import copy of that knife cover Dr. No in at the Westwood Borders where I was working at the time and I didn't buy it--even though I was aware it was a variant. I think it was priced at $15, which was a hell of a lot of money for a mass market paperback in the late 90s, even with an employee discount!

    Yeah, that Win, Lose or Die inclusion is awfully weird. I'd like to think it was because the people at Coronet, like me, consider it to be one of Gardner's best! But it's still random. I was never sure exactly how many Gardners got this treatment before your post, and thought maybe all of them from WLD on had. It doesn't make any sense knowing there was such a gap.

    I'd also never seen that Gardner compendium before. That's the same size as the others?

  7. Yep, the compendium is a mass market paperback. Same size as the others, but much thicker!

  8. They are glorious! I wish I had all of them in my collection...

  9. Was it David Scutt who had done the artwork for the Gardner ones. I know he did some of them. These are my favourite though and its a shame that all of the Gardner novels never got these covers

  10. Hi there does anyone know the size of the print run for the first imprint of the first edition Goldeneye?
    Also I have heard that the 1989 paperback of License to Kill is the true first edition and was released before any hardbacks, is this correct? If so how many were printed and does this make them more valuable?
    Does anyone know the approximate worth of these two books?

  11. hello,
    i have recently baught the dr no book with the knife cover, the ian fleming is in grey and not embossedand the printing edition says 10 9. would it be possible for someone to tell me what it is worth

  12. I always wondered why they reissued only a handful of the Gardner novels. If they'd done them all, I would have collected them all.


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