Ditch that e-reader today and grab yourself a handful of dead trees! Today commemorates the launch of Penguin Books in 1935, the first time notable authors like Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie were published in an affordable, accessible format.
The physical attributes of paperbacks were already around, but were only used for pulp novels designed to titillate rather than inspire; before this day, you needed a sugar daddy or a library card to read the good stuff.
To keep the books affordable, art was stripped down to just a color-coded cover, title and author, along with the now-famous Penguin logo. Science fiction and fantasy has long been a staple of Penguin Books, and “Erewhon” by Samuel Butler was published in that first seminal year. Other titles in those first years included several H.G. Wells titles, from “The Invisible Man” to “The Time Machine,” John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids” and “1984” by George Orwell. The easy-to-carry books not only enabled secret sci-fi nerds, they also were slipped in the pockets of countless WWII soldiers looking for a few minutes of diversion. Paperbacks went from a trend to a book lover’s necessity. Even though digital reading is the new thing, admit it: you have a stash of beloved paperbacks you pick up time and time again.
Celebrate today by grabbing your favorite paperback book and stretching out under a beach umbrella. Or, if you’re not on vacation, curl up under your desk with a flashlight.