Friday, July 30, 2010


Thanks to Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare for pointing out that this week is the 75th anniversary of Penguin bringing out the first modern paperback.

I pleasantly surprised to read about the crime fiction connection and the fact that the idea for Penguin paperbacks evolved in my home town.

"Penguin paperbacks were the brainchild of Allen Lane, then a director of The Bodley Head. After a weekend visiting Agatha Christie in Devon, he found himself on a platform at Exeter station searching its bookstall for something to read on his journey back to London, but discovered only popular magazines and reprints of Victorian novels."

When this was remedied and the first Penguin paperbacks were published in the summer of 1935 they were colour coded, orange for fiction, blue for biography, and the familiar green for crime fiction; and they cost sixpence!
I must pop down to the station, and see what there is for sale there now for sixpence, 75 years later.


Blogger roddy said...

A link to the history of green Penguins:

10:56 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

What a great idea. If he hadnĀ“t invented the paperback, someone else would have had to!

Not sure you can buy much for your sixpence, but Amazon have quite a broad selection for 65 pence ;D

11:19 AM  
Blogger roddy said...

I don't think he invented it, because I know that novels in paper covers were available in France in the 1920s. However, he did popularise the paperback and with his great selection of authors he certainly gave the paperback respectability.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have always wondered about the color coding on the Penguin Classics of my era, the 1980s. These volumes had black spines with a small color strip along the top of each. I think my Jane Austens were yellow, and I recall some of the non-Western classics as being green.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

11:26 PM  

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