Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction and the Rise of the Australian Paperback

Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction and the Rise of the Australian Paperback

By Andrew Nette

Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture Anthem Studies in Book History, Publishing and Print Culture

This book explores the history of Horwitz Publications, one of Australia’s largest post-war pulp publishers. Although best known for its cheaply produced, sometimes luridly packaged softcover books, Horwitz Publications played a far larger role in mainstream Australian publishing than has been recognised, particularly in the expansion of the paperback that took place from the late 1950s onwards. 

PDF, 250 Pages


July 2022

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 250 Pages


July 2022

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

The first book-length study of Sydney-based Horwitz Publications, the largest and most dynamic Australian pulp publisher to emerge after World War II. Although best known for its cheaply produced, sometimes luridly packaged, softcover books, Horwitz Publications played a far larger role in mainstream Australian publishing than has been so far recognised, particularly in the expansion of the paperback from the late 1950s onwards. 

Horwitz was adept at seeking out and exploiting the porous spaces that existed, sometimes only temporarily, between pulp and mainstream publishing: where mainstream literary forms were reconfigured to suit more sensational tastes, authorial reputation was fluid, and government regulation failed to keep pace with shifting reading tastes and social mores. Its dealings were aggressively transnational in scope, moving beyond London, to directly encompass the United States and other overseas fiction markets. And Horwitz continually mined international literary and publishing fashions and successes to create local analogues of popular pulp and mass-market publishing genres, giving them a makeover to align them with Australian cultural sensibilities, tastes and legislative environments. 

Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction and the Rise of the Australian Paperback examines the authorship, production, marketing and distribution of Horwitz pulp paperbacks. It includes ground-breaking material on the conditions of creative labour: the writers, artists and editors involved in the production of Horwitz pulp. The book also explores how Horwitz pulp paperbacks acted as a local conduit for the global modern: the ideas, sensations, fascinations, technologies, and people that came crashing into the Australia consciousness in the 1950s and 1960s. This is part of the larger story of Australian pulp fiction’s role as an unofficial archive of changing tastes, ideas, controversies and debates about gender, race, class, youth, and economic and social mobility that occurred in 1950s and 1960s Australia.


“This fascinating and meticulously researched book tells a compelling story about the most successful independent Australian publisher, Horwitz, in the mid-20th century. Nette argues that Horwitz impacted the Australian book industry and Australian reading practices by its innovative adoption of merchandising practices and its ability to tread the fine line between feeding readers the salacious and sensationalist fare they wanted while keeping the censors at bay. This is a valuable and immensely readable story about the Americanisation of Australian popular fiction in the mid-twentieth century and the Australianisation of American genres at the same time.” — Hsu-Ming Teo, Associate Professor and Head of Department, Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Language and Literature, Macquarie University, AUS.

“Nette is a great storyteller, attending to texts, books as artifacts, production, and marketing in narrating the cultural history of paperbacks in Australia. He makes a major contribution to the international study of pulp paperbacks by investigating how the particular economic and political circumstances of Australia shaped the market.” — Erin Smith, Professor of American Studies, The University of Texas at Dallas, USA.

"This book provides readers with a detailed, thoughtful and revelatory account of Australia’s post-war “pulp fiction” publishing industry as it primarily focuses on a historically neglected phase of Australian popular (mass) culture." — Kevin Patrick, Adjunct Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University, USA.

"Horwitz Publications is an effective populariser of Australian literature. It negotiates the circuit of modern publishing—production, distribution, and reception—in a way that shaped the Australian book market itself. The topic of study and Nette’s style of writing would appeal to many general readers, including fan cultures built up around (Australian) pulp fiction and librarians and archivists who are invested in studying popular literature." — Kinohi Nishikawa, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies, Princeton University, USA.

Author Information

Andrew Nette has a PhD from Macquarie University and is an author of fiction and non-fiction.


Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

Anthem Studies in Book History, Publishing and Print Culture

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Acknowledgements; Introduction: Pulp Jungles in Australia and Beyond; 1. ‘Mental Rubbish’ and Hard Currency: Import Restrictions and The Origins of Australia’s Pulp Publishing Industry; 2. Dreaming of America: Horwitz in the Early Post-War Period; 3. The Fiction Factory Expands: Horwitz in the Second Half of the 1950s; 4. ‘The Mighty U.S.A Paperback Invasion’: Horwitz and The Changing Metabolism of Australian Publishing in The Early 1960s; 5. The Female Fiction Factory; 6. Party Girls and Prisoners of War: The Australianisation of Horwitz Pulp in the 1960s; 7. Policing The ‘Literary Sewer’: Horwitz and The Censors; 8. Competing with The Sexual Spectacle: Horwitz and The Mainstreaming of The Erotic, 1967–1972; 9. ‘You’ve Got to Grab Their Attention’: Horwitz Cover Art; 10. The End of The Pulp Jungle; Bibliography; Index


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