There’s just something about a book. 

The sensory experience of feeling thin sheets of paper as you turn the pages, the smell of pulp and cardboard, the sight of books stacked in colorful piles on your nightstand or neatly arranged on shelves in the library.  E-readers are a terrific invention, but for so many of us, nothing beats the comfort of holding a book in your hands.

Did you know that Friday, July 30th is Paperback Book Day?  It’s a day to celebrate the invention of the modern paperback, which made great literature accessible and affordable for the masses. 

FOLSOI’s Book Sale on Saturday, July 31 (at Southport Realty, 1:30-4pm) is a great place to celebrate. Grab a pile of great paperback books at the unbelievably low price of just $0.50 each! Throw a few in your beach bag or your suitcase for your next trip, or better yet, stack them in an ambitious pile on your nightstand!  

The paperback book, as we know it today, was first mass produced in England by Penguin Books in July of 1935.  Prior to that time, books were very expensive, large in size, and fairly heavy due to their elaborate wood and leather covers.  Sure, there were dime novels, produced between the late 1800s to early 1900s, but these tended to be mainly sensational stories and poorly written pulp fiction, cheaply produced on flimsy paper.  Good literature was exclusively published in hardcover and only people of means could afford to buy them. 

Believe it or not, the railroad played a role in the development and popularity of the paperback. 

In the early 1900s, traveling with books was cumbersome and risky; hardcover books were a hot commodity amongst thieves!  As the construction of railroad tracks spanned out across the country, more and more passengers embarked on week-long trips and began to seek books that were smaller and easier to pack.  Sir Allen Lane started a publishing revolution at Penguin when he realized that train travelers would appreciate good literature at a low cost and printed in a size that was portable.   Penguin began to produce paperback copies of books that eventually ranged from classics like Ernest Hemingway to modern mystery writers like Agatha Christie. 

Sir Lane’s campaign was a phenomenal success that made great literature in paperback form readily available in both bookstores and public libraries.

See you at the FOLSOI Book Sale on Saturday, July 31!


A few fun book suggestions available in paperback through our library system:

The Sun Also Rises, one of Ernest Hemingway’s first novels printed in paperback

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie’s first published mystery

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, the NY Times best-selling paperback fiction in 2021

The Body Keeps Score; Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., the NY Times best-selling non-fiction paperback

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict, the bestselling paperback on Amazon