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Penguin Books

758 of 1169 nominations

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Penguin Books

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Penguin Books

We now take Penguin paperbacks for granted but in 1935, when they were first introduced, they constituted a publishing revolution. Priced at only sixpence, the same cost as a packet of cigarettes, they brought quality contemporary writing to a mass audience. “We believed in the existence in this country of a vast reading public for intelligent books at a low price,” said Allen Lane, the publisher at Bodley Head who came up with the concept. With their instantly recognisable logo and simple colour coding (dark blue for biography, green for crime and orange for fiction), Penguins were a huge success selling 3 million paperbacks in their first year. Opponents at the time, including George Orwell, were convinced they would undermine the hardback market, put an end to lending libraries and create an unwillingness in publishers to put out new novels, rather than cheap reprints of existing work.

The Pelican imprint was introduced in 1937 to cover heavyweight issues and this did put out original titles, helping to silence the critics, but by this time the march of the Penguin was already unstoppable.

NOMINATION 758 OF 1169

Your comments

Penguin Books are a much loved flagship vessel for many fine examples of English talent. These days Penguin books are an international icon!

Joss Munro


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I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England

PETER KING

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