Thursday, 12 December 2013

Paperbacks still a hit after all these years

This year many of us will give and receive paperback books for Christmas.

Despite the onset of e-book readers, such as the Kindle, I am sure that paperbacks have plenty of mileage left in them.

But did you know that paperbacks are only about 80 years old?

Although there were paperbacks prior to the 1930s, it was German publisher Albatross Books which pushed the format in 1931, but the onset of the Second World War prevented true progress. However, Penguin Books in the UK followed Albatross’s lead and printed ten different titles in the format in 1935.
Initially slow to catch on, Woolworths then placed a large order, which sold well, and other booksellers also began to stock paperbacks.

In the US the format was called a “pocket book” and the first big success in the US was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, in 1938.

Most paperbacks were reprints of hardbacks, but in 1950 Fawcett Publications started printing originals in paperback.

Hardback books have a higher profit margin than paperbacks and the former usually precede the latter on the bookstalls by several months. The paperback format is very popular in the mass market as the books are cheaper than hardbacks, of course.

They may not last forever, with e-books becoming ever more popular, but I reckon the paperback has a few years left to run. It certainly does for this reader.


  1. There's something very comforting about a paperback which can't be replaced by an e-reader.

  2. Still prefer a good paperback.