Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a production point of view)
Pocket Books

Pocket Books is a publishing imprint, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. It is the imprint under which all current Star Trek mass-market paperback novels are published. It also released hardcover and trade paperback novels and reference works until an editorial reorganization at Simon & Schuster in 2009, when those formats were incorporated into a new imprint, Gallery Books.

The origins of the company date back to 1939, with the publication of the first paperback books in the US by Robert Fair de Graff. Previously, books were only published in hardcover, and often priced at several dollars apiece – beyond the means of most people during the Depression. The success of paperback publishing in Germany and the UK led to de Graff's efforts, which, being sold at 25 cents each, were much more affordable. In addition to carefully selecting his titles, de Graff sought to establish new channels of distribution, such as drug stores, five and dime stores, and department stores – all places that, prior to his efforts, had not sold books. de Graff presented his idea to several publishers before Simon & Schuster decided it was worth a look. To this end, Pocket Books was formed.

Simon & Schuster purchased the company in 1966. In 1975, Simon & Schuster, and thus Pocket Books, was sold to Gulf+Western (which had also bought Paramount Pictures in 1966), and was incorporated into Viacom in 2002.

The Pocket Books logo is a kangaroo named "Gertrude".

The Star Trek license[]

Pocket acquired the license to publish Star Trek fiction in 1978 when Gulf+Western owner Charles Bluhdorn requested the development of a Star Trek book line as a promotional tie-in for the first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this despite the fact that Bantam Books was in the process of publishing original novels based upon the TOS era. A total of sixteen titles, both novels and reference books, were intended to coincide with the premiere of the film, which included a desk engagement calendar titled Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Official USS Enterprise Officer's Date Book (1980), the first of its kind for the franchise. (Playboy magazine, January 1980, p. 310) However, due to the film's mixed reception, only about half of these were ultimately released. One of these, the December 1979 novelization of that movie, was the company's first Star Trek novel, and marked the start of a long-running role for the company as the sole officially-licensed publisher for Star Trek novels, reference works and calendars in all forms and formats.

David G. Hartwell was instrumental in getting the initial Star Trek license and authors for the series, and was the first editor of the line.

The Bantam and Pocket Books licenses overlapped; as a result, while Pocket did publish the TMP novelization in 1979, Bantam continued to publish original novels based on the series until 1981; as a result, the first original Pocket Books novel, The Entropy Effect, did not appear until June 1981, several months after the April 1981 publication of the final Bantam novel, Death's Angel.

As the number of Star Trek series increased, and novels for each series slotted into the publishing schedule, Pocket reached a peak of publishing two mass-market paperbacks a month, a pattern which continued for ten years until 2005, when it was reduced to one per month.

On the title pages of many Star Trek novels from the early 2000s onward, a location from that novel is included as an additional Pocket Books office.

As already indicated, Pocket Books also retained the license to release Star Trek reference books in the US. Their first title was the 1979 Star Trek Speaks, published under the imprint "Wallaby Books" in reference to the publisher's logo – as a wallaby is a smaller species of kangaroo – , and an imprint brand which, like the "Wanderer Books" imprint for juvenile readers, was also used for Star Trek titles on occasion in that period. Publication outside the US was sub-licensed to (amongst others) Titan Books for the UK market, Heyne Verlag, VGS Verlag and Heel Verlag for the German market, Fanucci Editore for the Italian market, and Dai-X and Bunkasha for Japan, in translation where applicable. Incidentally, as if to reflect the popularity Star Trek enjoyed in these markets, Germany, Japan and, at some distance, Italy were the countries which saw the most translated reference book titles by far, starting with those published by Pocket Books.

Due to perceived diminishing interest in these kind of works, the number of new reference publications dropped sharply after 2002. Licenses to publish reference books were eventually extended to other publishers, starting in 2009 when Titan Books published Star Trek - The Art of the Film. Abrams Books, 47North, and Eaglemoss Collections in particular have since also been additionally contracted to release licensed Star Trek reference books.

On 29 March 2016, it was announced that Pocket Books, in conjunction with CBS Consumer Products, would be offering over 700 Star Trek titles as DRM-free eBooks. [1]

Beginning in 2017, the Star Trek: Discovery novels were published under Gallery Books. Over the next few years, other Pocket titles began migrating to that imprint, beginning with Available Light (TNG) and The Captain's Oath (TOS) in May 2019. From that point forward, all series previously under Pocket Books were published as Gallery Books.


Note: reference books are in chronological order by year of first printing.
Note: for all calendar series applies, only those published/produced from 1979 (for the year 1980) up until and including 2012 (for the year 2013), after which the calendar license was sold to Universe Publishing.

Chronology and continuity in the Pocket novels[]

Pocket's licensed novels are required to be consistent with on-screen canon, with Paramount Consumer Products (formerly CBS Consumer Products) approving the outlines and manuscripts of each novel on that basis.

From the mid-1980s onward, there was a general belief that novels could not make significant character changes, such as the death of a character or a promotion contradicting an established on-screen rank. This has often been considered to have been the influence of Richard Arnold, although that is disputed.

However, novels were free to provide explanation for character changes and events that took place in canon, such as the Star Trek: The Lost Years miniseries which followed James T. Kirk's role as Chief of Starfleet Operations, as well as explaining other promotions such as Pavel Chekov's role as security chief.

A frequently-used concept in the Pocket Books novels of the 1980s was the existence of a second five-year voyage of the USS Enterprise under Captain Kirk (taking place either before or after The Motion Picture), something which was not stated in canon, but did not contradict the chronology known at the time. The 2005 novel Ex Machina and its follow-ups returned to this idea.

With the ending of the various television series, a greater degree of creative freedom saw the restriction on character change relaxed somewhat. This included the (temporary, was later reversed) death of Kathryn Janeway in the novel Before Dishonor, and the Enterprise novels retconning Trip Tucker's death. This period also saw the novels developing into their own internal continuity, with Star Trek authors and Pocket Books editorial often collaborating to enhance consistency between various manuscripts.

Particularly with regard to The Original Series, it is generally accepted that the number of novels published means that the characters would not have had enough time to participate in all of the depicted adventures.

In late 2021, a series of books titled Star Trek: Coda were published, beginning with the title Moments Asunder. These books were created in response to the release of new series such as Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Prodigy, set after the events of Star Trek: Voyager and other previous series and thus conflicting with continuity established within the various novels released as the "relaunch novels" of the various Star Trek franchises. As such, Coda establishes these novels as being set within an alternate timeline.

Star Trek editors[]

Pocket Star Books[]

The Pocket Star Books line is a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster that specializes in media tie-in eBooks. As such, a number of the Star Trek novels are released under the Pocket Star Books imprint when released in ebook format.

Further reading[]

External links[]