Books. Words. Life.

For all you bookworms who love the feel and smell of “real” books, and have never been able to or felt the need for switching to e-readers or tablets, today is your day. It’s Paperback Book Day!

E-readers carry a whole lot of more material in a smaller device, are convenient to lug around, and take up less physical space than paperbacks. But there is something “real” about physical books that makes some of us hold on to them even in this age of technological advancement.

Paperback Book Day is celebrated on 30th July because it is the anniversary of the day the first Penguin paperbacks were published in England in 1935. The day revolutionized reading when it was introduced. Prior to the availability of paperbacks, the hardcover book was considered the only way to read “good literature”. But they were expensive (like many of them still are), most people could not afford to buy the books, and being big and bulky they were not easy to carry around and read. The paperbacks existing prior to 1935 were cheap in price but also of poor quality – in terms of both writing and printing. “Books of substance” were not published in paperback form.

Sir Allen Lane realized that the reading material available to the average person was mostly low quality and unacceptable. He started what would become Penguin books in an attempt to make good quality literature available more easily and inexpensively. Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie were among the first authors whose titles were published under Penguin.

In America, Robery Fair de Graff had a similar epiphany, and decided that books should not only be cheap but small enough to carry around and be read anywhere. This venture resulted into the launch of Pocket Books in 1939. Emily Brontë, Agatha Christie and Shakespeare were some of the authors whose titles were sold by Pocket Books in the early days.

Both Penguin and Pocket Books still publish today in an era of ebooks, and bookstores still sell paperbacks even in the presence of numerous online portals. I have many fiction books on the Kindle, which are mostly one time reads or books I do not want taking up space on the bookshelves. Most of my non-fiction, academic and technical books are in the form of paperbacks.

Readers look for any excuse to read. How better to celebrate Paperback Book Day than to sit back, relax and read a book.

15 Jan 2018 (12)

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Tomes and Tales

A warm welcome to the world of books. This “open book” features at the entrance of a bookstore. You enter where the “cover” is – literally having to “close the book” as you open the door. Such an ingenious bookish idea to greet patrons and have bibliophiles coming back for more.

book door

The text is a poem by Safdar Hashmi – a playwright and director, who was highly involved in street theatre. For those who would like to know what the lines mean, I am translating the contents below.

Books
talk to us
of past eras
of worlds, of people,
of today, tomorrow or yesterday
of each day, each moment
of happiness or gloom
of flowers or bombs
of victories or losses
of love or loss.
Won’t you listen,
to the talks of these books?
The books want to say something…
They want to live with you
Sparrows chirp in these…

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