University of Arizona

Students, faculty, staff, and the public are now welcome to visit Special Collections without an appointment from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. 

Dell mapback paperback collection

A colorful collage of Dell mapback covers

Dell "mapback" paperback books (1943-1951) are an early and popular publication of Dell paperback books. The Dell mapback series is distinctive due to both its front cover artwork, and its back-cover artwork; the latter diagrams the locale of each story for the reader. Dell mapbacks are primarily dedicated to mysteries, however, other genres included in this series are romance, western, adventure, thriller, suspense, as well as a brief series of war books.

Other features unique to this series are the front-cover logos indicating genre. For instance, the eye-in-the-keyhole logo denotes mystery, suspense, and/or thriller. A heart denotes romance, and so forth. Many of the preliminary pages include short biographical listings of characters as well as descriptive story summaries. Each book in the mapback series is numbered sequentially. Of particular note are renowned authors including: Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Ellery Queen, H. G. Wells, Mignon G. Eberhart, John Steinbeck, Faith Baldwin, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and stories selected by Alfred Hitchcock.

This collection comprises over 450 titles, published from 1943-1951, and is arranged in sequential order according to serial number.