Building Cornell University Library’s Collections

Popular Fiction and TV Tie-In Paperbacks

Partners in Sin

Popular Fiction Collection

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections features a growing collection of genre, or popular fiction, supplementing Cornell’s fine literature and poetry collections and offering scholars the resources they need to map a more comprehensive history of narrative forms. Although previously ignored in academia, genre fiction-such as detective, western, romance, fantasy, or horror-now serves as the focus of an increasing number of scholarly projects. The early- and mid-twentieth century romantic and erotic novels shown here, for example, provide context for the Library’s nationally distinguished Human Sexuality Collection, and inform Cornell’s established collections of American canonical authors of the same period, from Faulkner to Fitzgerald. Read from a historical perspective, these novels frequently expose the preoccupations and anxieties of specific cultural moments. Their formulaic nature offers insight into the evolution of mass consumer taste, their plot lines often trace the influence of common archetypes and myths, and their dust jackets offer important evidence on the history of publishing and graphic design.

Purchased with funds from the Class of 1956 Rare Book Endowment


TV Tie-In Paperbacks

Created for a mass audience by publishers and studios eager to capitalize on the popularity of American television shows, “TV tie-in” paperbacks first emerged in the 1940s and have multiplied by the hundreds ever since. Most are novels based on the episodes or characters of successful shows, but other types of tie-in books are also common, such as joke books, cookbooks, cartoons, puzzles, and celebrity biographies.

Cornell University Library holds an assemblage of nearly 1,400 TV tie-in paperbacks, acquired from a collector who spent decades pursuing fine examples of these increasingly scarce and ephemeral works. At Cornell since 2001, the collection supports research on the growth of television and its audience, on the influence and appeal of individual actors and programs, and on the intersection of print and visual entertainment media.

TV tie-in paperbacks support a growing scholarly interest in the cultural influence of television, film, and other media, and in the channels by which those media are packaged, sold, and consumed. Due to the dedicated work of a single determined collector, Cornell University Library now preserves the most comprehensive collection of American TV tie-in paperbacks in the world, providing a key source of information about life in twentieth-century America for future students and scholars.

Collection purchased with funds from the Class of 1956 Rare Book Endowment

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