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Smoke This Book: Sci-Fi Novels and Cigarette Ads


As a young boy, poring over the dusty stacks of my local used book store—aliens and monsters crawling over the covers, yellow pages shivering with small, blood-red spiders—I was always amazed to crack open the spines of 70’s era sci-fi novels and discover cigarette advertisements inside.

My first copy of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, for example, was a reprint in support of Charlton Heston’s Omega Man. But on page 94, Neville’s frantic scramble home after his watch was interrupted by a sultry, big-haired woman in lingerie, and sucking on a Marlboro.

I’d always wondered about the ubiquity of 70’s cigarette ads in books: how they’d come about; how they disappeared. Over at the New York Times, they take a look back at this practice, and it’s extremely sci-fi oriented. Not only were sci-fi novels in the 70’s one of the most amenable mediums for trade paperback advertisers, but the entire practice started with a little book by a man called Spock.

Smoke This Book [New York Times] (via SF Signal)

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