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July 30

Penguin Book

Publisher Allen Lane said he wanted a “dignified, but flippant” image to symbolize his new company. The cute penguin seemed to fit the bill.

Photo by flickr user "no_typographic_man"

1935: A Soft Spot for Writers
Penguin Books is founded
The Penguin publishing house made classic literary works available to a larger audience at an affordable price by publishing paperback editions—not heavy hardcover books that had been the norm up until then.

Allen Lane, Penguin’s founder, had been hunting for something to read at the train station, but had only found magazines and soft-cover romance novels. Among the first authors printed were Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway.

The books, a few cents each in today’s dollars, were color-coded: fiction works had an orange cover, crime a green one, and so on. And how’s this for success? That first year, some three million paperback books were sold.
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