Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Old Trunks as mentioned her grand uncle Olaf, numbers of times. She has talked about how, when the house he lived in at Rosewood was bought by her parents, books, to numerous to mention, were burned. These were the yellowbacks and dime novels. It was about 1941 or so.

The question for the day is, when did soft cover books become available. We know from looking at Olaf's books from the late teens and early twenties, in that era books were stitched together. If we look at a paperback in our own collection, we see the cover is paper or cardboard and the spine is glued, rather than being stapled.

We know that in today's market, the hard cover comes out first, with a grand profit margin for the publishers and the sellers, followed by the paper back. Have you said, or heard someone say, "I will buy it when it comes out in paperback?" Most likely you have.

The question remains: When did dime novels begin?

The experiment started in Germany but was cut short.

Allen Lane, from England intended to produce cheap books. He bought paperback rights from publishers, ordered huge print runs (e.g., 20,000 copies) to keep unit prices low, and looked to non-traditional book selling retail locations. Booksellers were initially reluctant to buy his books. But Woolworth, placed a large order on the books, and the books sold extremely well. After this initial success, booksellers were no longer reluctant to stock paperbacks. The word "Penguin" became closely associated with the word "paperback".

In America, DeGraff, issued a similar line in the USA, partnering with Simon and Schuster to found the Pocket Books imprint. De Graaf, like Lane, negotiated paperback rights from other publishers, and produced large print runs. His practices contrasted with those of Lane in his adoption of illustrated covers, aimed at the North American market. In order to reach an even larger market than Lane had, he went the mass market route, through distribution networks of newspapers and magazines, which had a lengthy history of being aimed (in format and distribution) at mass audiences. This was the beginning of mass market paperbacks. The Thief River Falls Times, ran chapters of books in their paper.

Our question remains, do we know the first paper back published. The answer is yes. It was The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck in 1939 in New York City.

During WWII, dime novels were beginning distribution within the arm forces. Women were reading. People waiting for planes and trains were reading. The metal racks, which took little space were popping up everywhere including airports, train stations, and drugstores. Society was hooked on the little book that fit into one's purse.

People traded books to read and still do. Libraries have sales to sell books by the bag, many of them worn paperbacks.

Nothing has taken pocket books out of the running until recently when the KINDLE became available in November of 2007. Today, the Kindle Store has more than 300,000 books available, plus top newspapers, magazines, and blogs. This is just the beginning. Our vision is to have every book ever printed, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds on Kindle. We won't stop until we get there.

Whether you prefer biographies, classics, investment guides, thrillers, or sci-fi, thousands of your favorite books are available, including 109 of 112 books currently found on the New York Times® Best Seller list. New York Times Best Sellers and most new releases are $9.99, and you'll find many books for less.

Kindle $359. Holds 1,500 books
Kindle DX $489. Holds 3,500 books.

Do you read enough to warrant it? I know a few that do.


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