A warm hearted happy birthday to one of my favourite brands. . .
In 1935 a man called Allen Lane took a trip, on the train to visit his good friend Agatha Christie.
He wanted to find something to read for his trip, he searched the bookstalls on the station and found only popular magazines and reprints of Victorian novels. Boring, poor quality, and nothing contemporary.
Right there on Exeter station. Allen came up with the concept for Penguin books.
The books came colour coded orange for fiction, blue for biography, green for crime and cost just sixpence (the same price as a packet of cigarettes). This completely changed the public’s relationship with books.
In 1961 the penguin modern classics series was launched. Allen set out on a second revolution to reevaluate the word ‘classic’. Take it from the very influential but very old and give it to modern and astounding authors that maybe wouldn’t have been considered as ‘classic writers’ for another hundred or so years, long after they were dead. Now the word ‘classic’ is so ingrained in the public consciousness, brand new releases from unknown novelist are called classics almost everyday.
Fast forward again.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the penguin classics series. And they have again looked into the modern day life, and have come up with the penguin mini classics series. Short stories from the greatest writers of the last century. Designed to appeal to all of us who are a little bored with reading the free papers on the train in the morning, yet feel a novel is far too much of a commitment in our hectic lives.
In a time when we are all looking to our iPad’s and Kindle’s for the next big thing we should maybe not forget their distant cousin, the unassuming, but incredibly powerful paperback book!