Improvements in the technology of printing and papermaking in the early nineteenth century, including the introduction of steam-powered printing presses, made it commercially possible to mass-produce inexpensive paperback books. The railways provided the means to distribute them and convenient locations to sell them to suburban and provincial readers. In 1935, the publisher Allen Lane spotted a gap in the market for paperback editions of high-quality works of fiction and non-fiction at 6d. for the mass market. Penguin Books, with their straightforward but sophisticated cover designs, were an instant success, selling over one million copies in the first year.


  • Title: Paperback fiction
  • Date Created: 1935
  • Rights: Cambridge University Library

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