Jason Epstein, an editor and publisher who shaped literary tastes for decades by launching the “paperback revolution” in the 1950s, editing acclaimed authors at Random House and helping to found the New York Review of Books and later the Library of America series, died Feb. 4 at his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y. He was 93.

His wife, former New York Times journalist Judith Miller, said the cause was congestive heart failure.

Once described as possessing the erudition of a literary scholar and the entrepreneurial spirit of a pushcart peddler, Mr. Epstein was just 23 when he conceived an idea that revolutionized how books were sold.

He was working in his first publishing job, at Doubleday, making $45 a week. Unable to afford many books, he proposed that Doubleday publish classic literature and criticism in inexpensive paperback editions. Until then, paperbacks consisted almost entirely of lowbrow escapist fiction.

In 1952, Mr. Epstein introduced Anchor Books, with early titles by British writer D.H. Lawrence, critics Lionel Trilling and Edmund Wilson and 19th-century French novelist Stendhal. Priced from 65 cents to $1.25 and published in editions of 10,000, the books sold out in four weeks.

Students were particularly drawn to what was called the paperback revolution, and other publishers followed Mr. Epstein’s lead, making literary classics and challenging new works widely available in softcovers. Quality paperbacks or “trade” paperbacks, as they are known, became the most profitable part of the publishing business.

Mr. Epstein had brought Russian-born novelist Vladimir Nabokov to Doubleday, but he left the firm when it rejected Nabokov’s controversial novel “Lolita,” about an older man’s obsession with a preteen girl….