Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy Birthday Paperbacks!


Following is a post I made way back in 2012 about the beginning of paperbacks.  An article in the Mental Floss Magazine had caught my eye, and I shared it with readers.  I updated this post a bit in 2016, and I'm doing some more editing and adding now, in 2022, and sharing it again on the birthday of the paperback book.  The history actually began in 1935 by Allen Lane who founded Penguin Publishers in England when they published their ten original paperbacks, so I'm including a piece on that, too.  The United States was about four years later than the UK in trying out this new way of making books more affordable and accessible.  Robert de Graff in partnership with publisher Simon and Schuster came out with Pocket Books in June 1939 to "transform New York's reading habits."

For those readers who have great patience and can stand to wait for a book to appear in paperback form, they can enjoy a great read that is more affordable and easier to carry.  There are even two sizes, the mass paperback (the smaller and uniform in size) and the trade paperback (the larger and not always the same size).  Some authors, who are particularly popular in general or with a specific title, are published in both the mass and the trade.  I much prefer the trade paperback (when I can wait and not demand the expediency of the hardback), as the print is larger and there is more white space between sentences.  It's partially an age-related preference, but I actually like the feel of the larger books, too.  My least favorite type of paperback in either mass or trade is the movie-cover paperback.  I like my reading served up with a little less direction and more imagination.  What steered me toward thinking about paperbacks is the article on the origin of the paperback book in the United States back in 2012 in Mental Floss Magazine.  Originally called pocket books, for obvious reasons, the mass paperback still follows that form.  Of course, the current trend of e-reading is analogous to the advent of the paperback, and it is mentioned in the article, too.  I am including the article from Mental Floss Magazine so that others may also enjoy a little history lesson in reading.There are so many great paperback versions since their beginning, and I plan on exploring a few of those in another post.  Today is just about the beginning.

Below are links to "How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read" in Mental Floss, "How the Paperback Novel Changed Popular Literature" (which starts with Allen Lane and Penguin in the UK) in Smithsonian Magazine, and a video link about Penguin's paperback beginning.  Enjoy!



From the Smithsonian Magazine site, here is a link to their article about Penguin's foray into the new world of making books more affordable to more readers by introducing the paperback.  

Here's an amazing video talking about Penguin's revolutionary paperback beginning.  It's #2 in a series of seven videos about the history and future of Penguin called "The Bird You Have Throughout Your Life."     

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