From an excellent 2015 New Yorker article about the rise of mass market paperbacks, following on from pulp magazines:
George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was one of the best-selling novels of the early nineteen-fifties. The dust jacket for the American hardcover edition, published by Harcourt, Brace in 1949, has an all-text design on a dark-blue monochrome background. Orwell’s name and the words “A Novel” are printed in script. Very tasteful, in keeping with the gravity of the subject.
The cover of the 1950 Signet reprint (the artist was Alan Harmon) features a surprisingly toned Winston Smith, in a sleeveless top that shows off his triceps nicely, sneaking a glance at a slinky Julia, in lipstick and mascara, who wears an Anti-Sex League button pinned to a blouse with a neckline that plunges to her tightly sashed midriff. The artist has rendered O’Brien, Winston’s nemesis, as a sort of sadistic swimming instructor—a menacing dude clad in a black skullcap and halter-top outfit cut daringly across the pecs, and clutching what it is hard not to assume is a whip. “Forbidden Love. . . . Fear. . . . Betrayal,” the blurb says. “Complete and unabridged.”
The whole article is great, but this bit especially…