In 1935, if you wanted to read a good book,
you needed either a lot of money or a library card. Cheap paperbacks
were available, but their poor production generally tended to
mirror the quality between the covers.
Penguin paperbacks were the brainchild of Allen
Lane, who decided that good quality contemporary fiction should
be made available at an attractive price and sold not just in
traditional bookshops, but also in railway stations, tobacconists
and chain stores.
The first Penguin paperbacks appeared in the
summer of 1935 and were colour coded (orange for fiction, blue
for biography, green for crime) and cost just sixpence, the
same price as a packet of cigarettes. The way the public thought
about books changed forever - the paperback revolution had begun.