Are you a fan of all the latest and greatest e-readers, kindles, audiobooks, and other revolutionary ways of consuming books? Or do you have a steadfast appreciation for the well-known and well-worn pages of a physical book? Maybe you prefer the weight of a hardcover in your hands, but what about the more user-friendly (and budget-friendly!) paperback?
At Page Chaser, we believe that the paperback book deserves a special mention, along with its own day. Why? Because it revolutionized reading when it was introduced, much like the e-reader has done more recently. And we’re in luck, because July 30th gives us a reason to celebrate the paperback book’s origins!
History of Paperback Book Day
July 30th is Paperback Book Day because it’s the anniversary of when the first Penguin paperbacks were published in 1935 in England.
Before then, hardcover books were considered to be a sign of quality literature and the only books worth having or reading. They were expensive, though (and still are!), so only those in wealthy society could afford to buy them. They were also big and bulky, so they were often difficult to leisurely read or transport.
Sure, paperbacks existed before 1935, but they were mostly cheap and poor quality, as was the writing. No “books of substance” were published in paperback form then. Sir Allen Lane changed that though, when he decided that the limited reading material available to ordinary people was unacceptable. He believed that anyone should be able to buy quality books more easily and inexpensively. So, he started what would become Penguin books. Penguin published books by Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie and other respected fiction authors and within the first year of production, over three million paperbacks were sold.
The paperback revolution hit a few years later, when Robert Fair de Graff decided books should not only be cheap, but also small enough to fit in a pocket. The publishing company Simon & Schuster agreed and backed his venture and so, pocket books began in May 1939, sized at just 4 x 6 inches and costing just 25 cents. Pocket books sold 1.5 million books in its first year, with titles from Emily Brontë, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare and others.
In honor of Paperback Book Day, we have compiled a list of ways to celebrate this small but mighty invention!
Donate your paperbacks
If you have some books that you’ve already read, donating them to charity, to a school, or library is a great way to give back to your community. Children’s books are always sought after, as donations ensure that every child has access to the joys of reading. Of course, some books will always hold a special place in your heart, so you can hold on tight to those!
Gift someone a paperback
What better way to celebrate Paperback Book Day than to give someone the gift of a book that has made an impact on your life? Whether your friend is a fellow book lover or someone newer to the hobby, a meaningful book is always a perfect gift. The options are endless and there is sure to be a book out there for everyone.
Read a book in one sitting
Paperback Book Day is the perfect day to clear your schedule and kick back with a good book – whether one you’ve read a million times or for the first time. Sit back, relax, then don’t stop reading until you’ve reached the end. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the day and finally take a crack at your TBR pile! Pro Tip: Maybe don’t pick the longest book on your shelf for this challenge...
Head to the library
Some say that libraries are becoming obsolete, but just going in and borrowing a paperback ensures that libraries have a reason to stay open. The benefit? Free books!
Go on a blind date with a book
Head to your local bookstore, where many have started selling “blind dates with a book” and discover a story you might never have before. Booksellers will handpick new or popular titles, wrap them up so you can’t see the cover or title, and then make a note about the genre and other specifics you might be hoping for. When you get home and unwrap your blind date book, it just may be love at first sight...or read!
Review a book
In the world of authors, reviews are vital. You might not realize it, but all your favorite authors relied on reviews when their books first came out to make other people buy them. By leaving a review of your thoughts, you help not only authors but other readers too.
Organize your bookshelves
How do you organize your books? In alphabetical order? By genre? By spine and cover color? Maybe it’s time to mix it up! Take all your books off their shelves and give them a new home – perhaps with a bit of creative guidance from Pinterest! The nostalgia of remembering each story as you find a new spot is a perfect way to celebrate the day and all that reading has done for you.