He just wanted a decent book to read …
Not too much to ask, is it? It was in 1935 when Allen Lane, Managing Director of Bodley Head Publishers, stood on a platform at Exeter railway station looking for something good to read on his journey back to London. His choice was limited to popular magazines and poor-quality paperbacks – the same choice faced every day by the vast majority of readers, few of whom could afford hardbacks. Lane’s disappointment and subsequent anger at the range of books generally available led him to found a company – and change the world!“We believe in the existence in this country of a vast reading public for intelligent books at a low price, and staked everything on it” Sir Allen Lane, 1902-1970 founder of Penguin Books
The quality paperback had arrived – and not just in bookshops. Lane was adamant that his Penguins should appear in chain stores and tobacconists, and should cost no more than a packet of cigarettes.
Reading habits (and cigarette prices) have changed since 1935, but Penguin books are still around – and hopefully will remain so for a long, long time!