Monday, September 18, 2006


Paperbacks have been around - as early as the 17th Century in France and Germany. In the English-speaking world, James Fenimore Cooper was writing frontier stories published in paperback-like format as far back as 1823, soon to be followed by a host of imitators. These were precursors of the tabloid "story papers", like Brother Jonathan Weekly, in the 1840s. The introduction of the steam rotary press enabled these to be produced cheaply in large numbers, and the emerging railroad network provided a convenient means of distribution. Probably the first true mass-market paperback, though, was the so-called "Dime Novel", which sprang into being in the 1860s.

The first bona fide mass-market paperback in the English speaking world is said to be Malaeska, by Mrs Ann S Stephens, which was published in June 1860 by the pioneers of the Dime Novel, Erastus and Irwin Beadle.

Penguin is the first really "respectable" paperback imprint in 1935. Allen Lane, Chairman of The Bodley Head, a London publisher introduced the Penguin imprint on July 30, 1935.

The first 10 title's Penguin produce were:
1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
2. Madame Claire by Susan Ertz
3. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
4. Poets Pub by Eric Linklater
5. Carnival by Compton Mackenzie
6. Ariel by Andre Maurois
7. Twenty-Five by Beverly Nichols
8. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
9. Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
10. William by E.H. Young

The first respectable mass market paperback in the US was The Good Earth, a novel by Pearl S. Buck, first published in 1931, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932. It is the first book in a trilogy that includes the books Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935)and was published by Pocket Books in November, 1938.

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