April 16, 2014


Continuing our look at unusual book designs this week, we turn the spotlight on Japanese editions of James Bond novels. As I mentioned in an interview for Artistic License Renewed, I started reading and collecting Ian Fleming when I was twelve. By twenty I was living in Japan as a college student and doing my first teaching internship. I'll never forget the thrill of discovering 007 books there. I was on a vacation with my host family and my brother and I stopped in an old bookshop. There were literally mountains of used books on every surface piled up to the ceiling. It was like a canyon of paper and ideas. My old Saturday routine suddenly kicked in. "Do you have any James Bond?" The owner searched around for a long time and finally came back with a stack of spy books from the 1960s. I'd found my collector's Nirvana!

The main publishing house for mystery (and Sci-Fi) in Japan is Hayakawa, a Tokyo company started by Kiyoshi Hayakawa in 1945. They printed paperback editions of the Ian Fleming books, using a variety of designs over the years that included illustrations and movie stills. Their main design concept for all of their books and series, however, was to place mystery and Sci-Fi in the world of modern expressionism through the use of abstract paintings. One of the coolest features of the early releases was the addition of slipcases- for paperbacks! I love that sense of detail and style (see first image). There were also early Fleming books printed with a blood-splatter motif, as seen in the Moonraker jacket below. These were published by Sogen-sha, who also specialized in mystery and Sci-Fi. Here are some samples of James Bond books from Japan.

Hayakawa also printed a number of Raymond Benson's 007 titles, including Man With the Red Tattoo, High Time to Kill, The Facts of Death, and Zero Minus Ten. As you can see, the company continued with their traditional abstract motif for the covers. The story in Raymond Benson's Red Tattoo takes place in Japan and  a museum was built on Naoshima dedicated to the book. I wonder how my Miki Zero novel will be received there? The character is quite stylish, so I'm hoping for a line of Mod clothing! Stay tuned tomorrow for more Hayakawa book treasures from Spy Vibe!

Recent Ian Fleming posts on Spy Vibe: Fleming Chinese EditionChitty Chitty Bang Bang 50thIan Fleming: Mt. Demon Hell JapanCollecting FlemingLive and Let Die 60thnew poster announced007 Audio Books UpdateAppropriating Bond Exhibit, Fleming Letters MysteryThe Goldfinger VariationsDouble 007 Book Designs,  Double 007 designs IIrare Ian Fleming editionBook Design DopplegangersTurkish Bond designIan Fleming LettersErno GoldfingerNoel CowardWhispering Jack SmithHawaiian GuitarJoe Fingers Carr, new Ian Fleming CatalogJon Gilbert interview, Double 007 Designs, Bond audio book reissues, discovery of one of Ian Fleming's WWII Commandos, James Bond book covers, Ian Fleming's Playboy interview for Kindle, Spy Vibe's discovery of a rare Ian Fleming serialization, rare View to a Kill, Fleming's Royal gold typewriter, Ian Fleming's memorial address, Spy Vibe's Ian Fleming image archive.

Recent Spy Vibe posts: The 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnSpy exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty TempletonDC Fontana Prisoner VideoEdward Gorey's 1960sIpcress File cinematography007 SOLO cover designs, Gloria Steinem and Denny O'Neil on MOD Wonder WomanWin Scott Eckert interview, Siegel and Shuster's SPYDavid McCallum: Son of BatmanWonderwall comes to Blu-rayKevin Dart talks Ringo & Powerpuff GirlsFu Manchu history panelMod Tales InterviewAtomic ArtShane Glines Batman.


  1. examining the Spy Vibe collection more closely (it's been a while), i was reminded that the photo covers are actually dust jackets on the paperbacks, and that the abstract art covers are underneath on the books themselves. so cool!

  2. anyone have an image of the Japanese movie edition paperback for Live and Let Die or DAF? cheers!