A revolution in book publishing started on this date 74 years ago.
On that date, the Penguin Publishing House brought out the first modern paperback book, a biography of the poet Shelley. The idea behind these editions came from Allen Lane, in reaction to the tough economic situation of the Depression.
Publishing paperbacks allowed him to lower his costs, sell more books and save his printing business. The lower cost and convenience of the softcover format caught on and has remained popular.
Today, in spite of competition from television and computers, Americans buy more than three billion books each year -- about half of them softcover. To pursue their reading, they spend close to $60 billion annually.