Happy Birthday Paperback Books!


On July 30, 1935, a new technology was born that provided knowledge, stories, entertainment (with text and pictures, no less) that was convenient and cheap.  It was light enough to carry anywhere and you could tag specific areas to penguinre-read at a later date.  An early e-reader?  Nope – the paperback book!  Penquin Publishers, in England, was the first to successfully publish respectable, quality writing without a hard cover.  (There were earlier paperback books called penny dreadfuls, yellow-backs, and dime novels that generally featured lurid stories and were printed on cheap pulp paper.)

pocketPartnering with Simon & Schuster, Robert de Graff introduced the first paperbacks in America on June 19, 1939 called Pocket Books.  The first American paperback book to be printed in the United States was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.  The cost to purchase these new books – 25 cents versus $2.75 for a hardcover.  In order to make a profit on paperbacks, de Graff had to print 100,000 copies at a time.  He couldn’t rely on bookstores to sell that many copies so he began using magazine distributors to place Pocket Books in newsstands, subway stations, drugstores and any other outlet to reach suburban and rural populations.  He designed bold, colorful, eye-catching book covers to catch people’s eyes.  By September 1944, 100 million books were sold in more than 70,000 outlets across the United States.   By the end of the 1940’s, the paperback industry began publishing original stories.  Previously, the industry only reprinted hardcover titles.  There are now more than 20 major publishers producing high quality, original and reprinted paperbacks.


Today, there are many sizes of paperback books and all different prices, but the two major sizes are mass-market and trade.  Authors originally wrote stories for publications in magazines, but soon shifted their attention to mass-market paperbacks.  They could write longer, more in-depth, entertaining novels that boasted beautiful, bold, color covers and were prominently displayed in all types of venues.  They were affordable and easy to carry and proved to be a huge hit.  Mass-market paperback readers have a large selection of genres of original stories to choose from, in addition to best-selling hardcovers republished in paperback form.  In the beginning, Westerns were the biggest selling genre, followed by Crime and Science Fiction.   The most popular genre for mass-market today is Romance.  Within this genre you will find many sub-genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, small town romance, and paranormal romance.  The Cheshire Library has a separate section dedicated to mass-market Romance Books located towards the front of the library, near the large windows.    Another very popular genre for mass-market paperbacks are Cozy Mysteries.  The Cheshire Library has a large selection of these interfiled among the hardcovers in the Mystery section of the library.  You can also find regular Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy paperbacks in the library’s collection.



Some literary authors, critics and bookstore owners turned their noses up at mass market paperbacks.  When Doubleday’s Jason Epstein was a college student, he lamented the fact that he and his fellow students couldn’t afford hardcover editions and envisioned a line of upscale paperbacks of hardcover bestsellers and classics.  By 1953, Trade paperbacks were introduced.  These were larger, more durable, with attractive covers illustrated by fine artists with an appeal to a more intellectual market.  They sold for 65 cents to $1.25.    The library’s selection of Trade paperbacks are filed among the hardcover books.  They also come in a variety of genres, with the most popular genres being erotic romance – with Fifty Shades of Grey topping the charts – and Christian-themed books.


There were many who thought paperbacks would kill the publishing industry, but instead, the books proved to be quite the sensation.  As recently as 2010, paperbacks outsold hardcover books.  Although the ebook has taken some of the market away from paperbacks, they still continue to be a much beloved tool for readers everywhere.  The look, feel, texture, smell, size, and portability makes the paperback book very inviting.


Want to Try A Greener Spring Cleaning?

Are you suffering from Spring Fever? Looking to clean house and purge your closets and cupboards while opening windows and letting the fresh air in? While the cleaning part might not be my favorite, I certainly enjoy the fresh, clean feel of my house when everything is spic and span. I feel even better when I get all that cleaning done without the use of the chemicals found in many commercial cleaners, which can also cost a small fortune.

The smell of a clean house that smells more like citrus and lavender is much more fun than one that smells like chemicals. It also feels a little safer to me when I know I am not using toxic chemicals around my children or pets, or on the things we all touch on a regular basis. If you are getting set to start your spring cleaning marathon, and want to do so a bit greener this year, here are some books that can offer ideas, recipes, and solutions for a greener clean this Spring.

1. Green-Up Your Cleanup by Jill Potvin Schoff

2. Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus

3. Green Clean: the Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning your Home by Linda Mason Hunter & Mikki Halpin

4. Green Housekeeping: in Which the Nontoxic Avenger Shows you how to Improve your Health and that of your Family While you Save Time, Money, and Perhaps your Sanity by Ellen Sandbeck

5. A Guide to Green Housekeeping: Live a Calmer, Healthier Life, Recycle and Reuse, Clean Naturally, Garden Organically by Christina Strutt

6. Sara Snow’s Fresh Living: the Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home by Sara Snow

7. The Naturally Clean Home: Over 100 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Nontoxic Cleansers by Karyn Siegel-Maier

8. Easy Green Living: the Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for you and your Home by Renée Loux

9. The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money, Save Time, Save the Planet by Josh Dorfman

10. The Eco-Living Handbook: a Complete Green Guide for your Home and Life by Sarah Callard and Diane Millis

It’s Spring! Great Time for Outdoor Projects

The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, it’s a little warmer outside and …wait!  That deck is looking a little weary.  Maybe you want to add a deck or patio.  Or how about a nice shed to store all your miscellaneous stuff?  The Cheshire Library has a great selection of books that will help you plan and execute your ideas for great decks, patios and sheds.


Deck Planner: 25 outstanding decks you can build –Scott Millard

The Complete Guide to Building Decks: a step-by-step manual for building basic and advanced decks

Deck Ideas That Work Peter Jeswald

Decks: plan, design and build Steve Corey

For additional titles, look in our non-fiction department under 690.893.


The Complete Guide to Patios: plan, build and maintainPhilip Schmidt

Patios and Walkways

The Complete Guide to Patios and Walkways: money saving do-it-yourself projects for improving outdoor living space

Walls, Walks & Patios: plan, design, build

For additional titles, look in our non-fiction department under 690.892.


The Versatile Shed: how to build, renovate, customize

Building A Shed: expert advice from beginning to end Joseph Truini

Shed Nation: design, build and customize the perfect shed for your yardDan Eckstein

Sheds: the do-it-yourself guide for backyard buildersDavid Stiles

For additional titles, look in our non-fiction department under 690.892.

And for a smaller project, try building a birdhouse/feeder.

Build Your Own Birdhouses and Feeders John Perkins

How To Build Birdhouses and FeedersStephen Moss

For additional titles, look in our non-fiction department under 690.8927.