Do you prefer paperback or hardcover books? What are the advantages of having paperback books? Now we can carry around hundreds if not thousands of books on our e-readers, in 1935 the paperback book revolution changed publishing forever, bringing books to the general public and making reading an everyday activity for millions of people.
Paperback Book Day is celebrated on 30th July, to mark the day when Allen Lane, along with his brothers Robert and John, founded Penguin Books and published what are now known as 'The Original Ten' – the first ever mass-produced paperbacks for the British market. Legend goes that Lane came up with the idea when he found himself stuck in a train station with nothing to read. There was nothing available at the station worth reading and Lane thought of creating a series of high-quality books that would be cheap enough to be sold from a vending machine. (He did exactly this and the first vending machine was called the Penguincubator!).
Lane however was not the first to come with the idea. A German publisher, Albatross, produced the first modern paperbacks, with a format based on the Golden Ratio. Lane was aware of their work and incorporated many of their insights into his venture, including the idea to colour code books by genre. The new series was an immediate success as people were travelling more and there was a need for good quality yet relatively inexpensive books which were light and small enough to carry around.
- Learn more about the history of paperback books here, on the History Today website.
- Read this article about the impact paperback books had on popular literature on the Smithsonian Magazine website.
A paperback book activity tip
Challenge your students with a thinking game by picking a book and showing them the hardback, paperback and digital editions of it. Ask them to list the characteristics of the three editions, looking for reasons they would buy each one. You can also have three groups, and they each have to speak for one type of book, listing their advantages. Of course they all have disadvantages or less favourable features, just think about the weight of hardbacks, the weak durability of paperbacks and the lack of physical or aesthetic connection with an e-reader.
Let's learn about the various types of book formats, book terminology and basic book publishing concepts. Then do some fun creative activities in class.
Ask your students to find examples of these book formats in their homes or in the school library. As book designers are really creative, this is only a selection of some of the better-known formats. Your students will surely find interesting, unusual formats they really like!
BOARD BOOKS: Small books for babies with rounded corners, sometimes in different shapes, and they sometimes have tactile or sound. You will find an image or a word on each page with very little or no text.
POP-UP BOOKS: These books have pictures inside which are cut in a way that they can stand up and you can see what is behind them.
PICTURE BOOKS: Longer than board books, they tell a story through pictures. In these books the illustrations are an integral part of the story.
REBUS BOOKS: In these books you have a combination of pictures and words within the sentences. They are fun books where you have to 'solve' the sentences to get the meaning.
EASY/EARLY READERS: Short, simple stories for young readers. They are usually shorter in length and contain some pictures, often as a support to the text.
NOVELS: Novels are longer than readers, and contain very few illustrations, if any.
GRAPHIC NOVELS: In a graphic novel, just like in a comic book, the pictures tell the story with or without speech bubbles and narration.
ANTHOLOGIES: It is a collection of poems, short stories or plays by different authors, usually about the same theme or from the same time period.
COFFEE TABLE BOOKS: These are usually high-quality and very visual books which you can browse through. People display them in their homes.
POETRY BOOKS: A collection of poems by the same or different authors.
10 bookish things to do
- Learn about books and book arts.
- Brush up your bookish vocabulary.
- Make your own books, and do some bookish arts&crafts.
- Rearrange your bookshelf.
- Create a reading nook in your home our in your classroom.
- Bring your favourite book to school.
- Revisit a book you used to like.
- Make a book exhibition with a book exchange.
- Read a classic literary work.
- Learn about copyright.
Design your own book covers
Ask your students to bring their favourite books to school, and ask them to cover the book with a blank sheet and then create their own book covers.
Then they can try using this free online book cover creator on the Canva website.