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A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or
Inexpensive books bound in paper have existed since at least the 19th century in such forms as
Paperback editions of books are issued when a publisher decides to release a book in a low-cost format. Cheaper, lower quality paper; glued (rather than stapled or sewn) bindings; and the lack of a hard cover may contribute to the lower cost of paperbacks. Paperbacks can be the preferred medium when a book is not expected to be a major seller or where the publisher wishes to release a book without putting forth a large investment. Examples include many novels, and newer editions or reprintings of older books.
Since paperbacks tend to have a larger
The early 19th century saw numerous improvements in the printing, publishing and book-distribution processes, with the introduction of steam-powered printing presses, pulp mills, automatic type setting, and a network of railways. These innovations enabled the likes of Simms and McIntyre of Belfast,
The German-language market also supported examples of cheap paper-bound books:
The German publisher
Lane intended to produce inexpensive books. He purchased paperback rights from publishers, ordered large
In 1939, Robert de Graaf issued a similar line in the United States, partnering with
Because of its number-one position in what became a very long list of pocket editions,
Through the circulation of the paperback in kiosks and bookstores, scientific and intellectual knowledge was able to reach the masses. This occurred at the same time that the masses were starting to attend university, leading to the student revolts of 1968 prompting open access to knowledge. The paperback book meant that more people were able to openly and easily access knowledge and this led to people wanting more and more of it. This accessibility posed a threat to the wealthy by imposing that it would be turned upside down, as the masses were now able to access almost all of the knowledge the wealthy previously had access to. Treating the paperback as any other book drastically weakened the distinction between high and low culture. The paperback revolution essentially broke this relationship by redefining it through access to knowledge.