I have identified 5 distinct formats for the Armada paperback releases from the classic series, each of which I have given a nickname to quickly describe each cover or spine style.

Format A - PHOTO
These were the first paperbacks issued in the U.K., and they would have been available contemporaneously with the Collins picture covers. They feature a photograph which recreates an event from the book; these should not be confused with the books which have a photo of Pamela Sue Martin (TV's Nancy Drew) on the cover, which came later.  The volume number for Format A books appears on back cover, rather than on the spine. Although the book lists indicate that volumes 1-10 were published, I have never seen examples of #3 or #8.  These were in print from 1973-1975.

Titles available: 1-10?, possibly 11
The Clue in the Crossword Cipher. Photo unattributed, copyright 1973, Armada, London.
These are the most commonly found Armada paperbacks, and they made their appearance just as the Collins hardbacks were being phased out. They feature a cartoon-like illustration confined in rectangular box, surrounded by yellow trim. The spine is also yellow with colored rectangle at base with volume number - this rectangle flows into the lower left corner of the front of the book, which reads "Nancy Drew Mystery No. XX" (or sometimes just the "No. XX" and "A Nancy Drew Mystery" in a starburst at the top right of the illustration). Occasionally an eye-catching banner will appear in the lower right corner of the cover, for special marketing purposes. Often the banner will indicate that the story is "New in Paperback," but I have also seen "The Thrilling Adventure Series" or "TV's Girl Detective."

All the illustrated artwork appears to be the work of one Peter Archer, who also did the covers for the Hardy Boys paperbacks of this era. Although Archer is not credited in the Armada books, his same illustrations were also used on the earlier Australian editions (published by Angus & Robertson), and they do identify him by name. Since the style is so consistent amongst all the covers, I feel confident in attributing all the covers to Archer. The "yellow box" books were in print from 1975 to 1982.

Titles available: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 51, 52, 53, 54
Titles indicating "New in Paperback": 16, 22, 23?, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 51, 52, 53, 54
The Ghost of Blackwood Hall. Artwork by Peter Archer, copyright 1975, Armada, London.
The Yellow Box books were being published during the time that the television series starring Pamela Sue Martin was airing. As a tie-in to the TV show, Armada issued two of the stories with the actress on the cover, The Mystery of the Tolling Bell and The Haunted Showboat. These would have been marketed side-by-side with the yellow box books; however I have found a copy of Haunted Showboat with both an illustrated cover and yellow box format. Probably the yellow box version was replaced by the TV cover format in 1981.
Titles available: 15, 19; ND&HB Meet Dracula; #19 comes with three banners: "Now on TV" , "As Seen on TV" and "A Thrilling Adventure"
The Mystery of the Tolling Bell. Photo courtesy of MCA Television. Copyright 1981 Armada, London.
Format C - ONE STAR

I like to call this style "one star" because of the single star at the base of the spine which houses the volume number. This is to easily distinguish it from Format D "multi-star." This format features the new Nancy Drew logo in dramatic lettering on a red-to-yellow gradient. The illustration is quite stylized and spills out from a circle or half-circle.

Most of the covers appear to be executed by one artist, whose name never indicated. On these covers, Nancy usually has a shag haircut and there are abstract symbols representing different facets of the storyline. This artist's style is very easy to identify. A few of the covers from this period have been done by a different artist (also unattributed) and are more representational and illustrate a scene from the story - they are not as stylized and often the perspective is somewhat distorted. Nancy often appears harsh and ugly in these - can you tell I don't like them as well?

There is a variety of banners which appear on the covers, including: "A Thrilling Mystery," "An Exciting Adventure," "A Thrilling Adventure Story" and "Another Thrilling Mystery Story."

The "one star" books have a spine which is a solid color with a single star containing volume number at the base. Some volumes came with both white background and colored background. The white spine books are the earlier versions. These were in print between 1983 - 1988.

Titles available (white spine): 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 30, 31, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62
Titles available (colored spine): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 51, 52, 53, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, SuperSleuths, Ghost Stories, Be A Detective #s1-6

Titles indicating "New in Paperback" (white spine): 30, 31, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62
Titles indicating "New in Paperback" (colored spine): 32, 34, 35, 36, 38, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72

The Hidden Staircase. Artwork unattributed, copyright 1983, Armada, London.

The "multi star" format features an illustration under an arch with a white background, decorated with many colored stars. The color of the stars on the front is the same as the color of the spine, which in turn displays the repeated star pattern (stars now in either white or black), with volume number at the top of spine, below Armada ship logo. The "NANCY DREW" logo is similar to the lettering on the Format C editions, but now the color has shifted to being more golden in tone, with a darkened area in the center.

There appears to have been a variety of artists (mostly unattributed, except for 4 covers by Mike Adams) contracted during this period, as many styles are in evidence. Nancy ranges from being a frizzy blonde to having very dark red hair. These were in print from 1988 - 1991.

Titles available: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 61, 62, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76
Titles available indicating "New in Paperback": 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Artwork by Mike Adams, copyright 1991, Armada, London.

These were the most recent Armada paperbacks available, but they too have since gone out of print. These books feature the volume number in a circle, found at the middle of the spine, between "NANCY DREW" and the title. The circle is also repeated on the front cover, usually to the right of the blurb.

The "circle on spine" books feature illustrations of Nancy looking very young beneath "NANCY DREW" in big blocky, semi-transparent letters. Many folks have noticed that Nancy doesn't quite look 18, and in fact she somewhat resembles the TV actress Tina Yothers who appeared on Family Ties. The same artist does all the covers. These books had a short life span and were available from 1992 - 1993.

This logo of Nancy reading her "case notes" appears on the back of all the Format E books.

Titles available: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 77, 78 The Clue of the Broken Locket. Artwork unattributed, copyright 1992, Armada, London.

Armada/Collins 3-in-1 editions





Shadow Ranch - Hollow Oak - Ski Jump

blue book, big red star on front; illustration of "B" Ski Jump

yellow box


Broken Locket - Larkspur Lane - Leaning Chimney

dark blue book, big red star on front; illustration of "B" Leaning Chimney

yellow box


Dancing Puppet - Crumbling Wall - Ringmaster's Secret

white with yellow at top of spine; illustration of "C" Blackwood Hall on front, "C" Invisible Intruder on back

one star


Tapping Heels - Tolling Bell - Pine Hill

pink w/ burgundy at top of spine; illustration of "C" Silver Cobweb

one star


Dancing Puppet - Black Keys - Mysterious Letter

baby blue with big yellow star on front; illustration of "C" Black Keys (? unconfirmed)

one star


Greek Symbol - Kachina Doll - Swami's Ring

yellow with big yellow star on front; illustration of "C" Swami's Ring

one star


Twin Dilemma - Captive Witness - Winged Lion

plain white spine; illustration of "C" Winged Lion

one star


Pine Hill - Fire Dragon - Moss-Covered Mansion

dark blue spine; illustration of "C" Moss Covered Mansion



Hidden Staircase - Ivory Charm - Brass Bound Trunk

bright blue spine; illustration of "D" Mysterious Mannequin

multi star


Triple Hoax - Flying Saucer - Old Lace

blue spine with Nancy head at top; illustration of "E" Broken Locket



Scarlet Slipper - Golden Pavilion - Old Attic

yellow spine with bottom 1/3 in green; "E" unrecognized cover



Phantom of Venice - Old Clock - Lilac Inn

orange spine with bottom 1/3 in purple; illustration of "E" Hollow Oak



Armada 2-in-1 editions


Cover illustration

Spine/Back illustration


Shadow Ranch - 99 Steps

"E" Shadow Ranch

"E" 99 Steps


Ski Jump - Spider Sapphire



"#3" Crossword Cipher - Missing Map

"E" Missing Map

"E" Crossword Cipher


"#4" Old Stagecoach - Broken Locket

"E" Broken Locket

"E" Old Stagecoach


"#5" Hollow Oak - Invisible Intruder

"E" Invisible Intruder

"E" Hollow Oak


"#6" Hidden Staircase - Ivory Charm

"E" Ivory Charm

"E" Hidden Staircase


"#7" Brass Bound Trunk - Velvet Mask

"E" Brass Bound Trunk

"E" Velvet Mask


"#8" Old Album - Witch Tree

"E" Witch Tree

"E" Old Album


"#9" Forgotten City - Strange Message in Parchment

close up of "E" Forgotten City

"E" Strange Mesage in Parchment


"#10" Leaning Chimney - Scarlet Slipper

"E" Leaning Chimney

"E" Scarlet Slipper




In 1988, Armada began producing stories from the sister series "The Nancy Drew Files." Armada produced the first 20 titles in the series, whereupon Archway UK took over. This is a little confusing, because the company who produced the Files in the States was also called Archway (essentially, both are subsidiaries of Simon & Schuster), so I always try to demarcate them by using the "UK" designation when appropriate. The British editions use the same numbering system as in the United States. New artwork was created for all the covers through #70, after which US books were reconfigured for the UK market, usually with just a sticker on the back indicating the price in pounds.


There are several spine styles associated with the British Files, which I have displayed to the right. The first book is of the "Armada style"; the next two are "Archway UK" style, and I wanted to show that some will have a white spine, while others will have a red box at the top of the spine indicating "The New Series"; the thick book at the far right is a 3-in-1 which shows the "blue top" spine.

Nancy Drew Files - Armada style: Cases #1-20

Uses American artwork for #1-5

Artwork by Gary Keane for #6

Artwork by Andy Walker for #7-20
(Nancy look like the actress Rebecca de Mornay)

Nancy Drew Files - Archway UK style: Cases#22-70
Artwork is generally attributed to Steve Lavis.
white spine, blue box on front: #22-39
red "The New Series" on spine: #40-70


A marketing strategy which is particularly popular in the UK to issue "three for the price of one" editions.

"Three Complete Files" (1991)

cover like "Armada style" (see above) uses US#1 artwork

  • Secrets Can Kill
  • Deadly Intent
  • Murder on Ice

There were also 7 "2-in-1" volumes of the first 14 stories released under a similar format.

Red Top "New Series"


  • Sinister Paradise
  • Trouble in Tahiti
  • Vanishing Act

White Spines


  • Black Widow
  • Pure Poison
  • Death by Design

CITY BLAZES (1995) "No. 3"

  • Rich and Dangerous
  • Playing with Fire
  • Most Likely to Die


  • Recipe for Murder
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Till Death Do Us Part

Blue Tops


  • Trouble in Tahiti
  • High Marks for Malice
  • Danger in Disguise


  • Shadow of a Doubt
  • Something to Hide
  • The Wrong Chemistry


  • Last Dance
  • Final Scene
  • The Suspect Next Door


  • Vanishing Act
  • Bad Medicine
  • Over the Edge

FOUL PLAY (1997)

  • False Impressions
  • Scent of Danger
  • Out of Bounds
Foul Play. Artwork from Don't Look Twice by Steve Lavis, copyright 1994 by Simon & Schuster Ltd, London.

1999, 2016 Lea Shangraw Fox