A Soft Spot for Reading: Paperback Book Day

Saturday, July 16th – Kayla Thompson, Adult Services

Many readers and book collectors understand the thrill of buying and holding a hardback book. They are durable and help protect books so that they can last a long time. But let’s not forget the importance of the paperback book. Sure hardbacks are nice, but they also tend to be more expensive, and, depending on the number of pages, quite heavy. Though I do prefer to buy the sturdier hardcover books, paperbacks have their own charm. Of the almost 2,000 books that I own, over half are paperbacks and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing!


Though the popularity of the paperback book rocketed at various times throughout the 19th  and 20th centuries, the concept of paperbacks has been around since the 17th century. During this time countries like Germany and France were already printing books and papers in the paperback style. The invention of the printing press only heightened the concept and many “dime novels” and “penny dreadfuls” were printed without hard covers. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that Penguin started leading the way in popular paperback titles. With the recession and the Great Depression, people needed more affordable ways to read the authors they loved.

A Few Interesting Facts:
-Paperback Book Day observes the anniversary of the first Penguin paperbacks being published in England in 1935 (https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/paperback-book-day/)
-In 2021, trade paperbacks were the dominant format in book sales with over 450 thousand sold (https://www.statista.com/statistics/422595/print-book-sales-usa/)
-The first paperback books were marketed towards railway passengers – they were considered more portable and less risky to transport than hardcover books were (https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/paperback-book-day/)

Here at the Cape Girardeau Public Library, we have paperbacks scattered throughout our collection in both the fiction and nonfiction sections. But in fiction, there is a separate section dedicated to mass market paperback books specifically. Though they are mostly romances, you can still find some of my favorites like The Last Curtain Call by Juliet Blackwell and Silence of the Lambs Wool by Betty Hechtman in the paperback mysteries. 

Graphic novels and comics also tend to be book types that are published in paperback rather than hardcover formats. Titles like Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern and Crowded Volume 1: Soft Apocalypse by Christopher Sebela are paperback books that can be found within this section. 

A paperback book can be found within almost every section of the library that holds books. Nowadays, many books are published straight to paperback instead of having a hardcover release first. This is true for many of the contemporary romances and independently published works, but is true for many of the other genres as well. Below is a short list of some of my favorites:

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Fiction, Contemporary Romance)
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (Fiction, Contemporary Romance)
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (Fiction)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Fiction, Classic)
Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert (Fiction, Contemporary Romance)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (Science Fiction)
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (Science Fiction, Independently Published)
Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency by Bea Koch (Nonfiction)
The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell (Nonfiction)
A Short History of (Nearly) Everything Paranormal by Terje G. Simonsen (Nonfiction)


So, come on into the library and check out some of our wonderful paperback books! We have something for everyone no matter the age of the patron or the genre of the book. You might just find more than you came for. Happy Paperback Book Day and as always, happy reading!

Cape Girardeau Public Library

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