Friday, July 30, 2010

Penguins? Quite British, Actually: The Books, That is

"Picking up Penguins for 75 years"
BBC (July 29, 2010)

"Tales about the man who founded Penguin 75 years ago, conjure up the image of an eccentric character from one of the publisher's books.

"Sir Allen Lane was the man who used a fairground slide to drop deliveries to his company (then based in a crypt) and came up with the Penguincubator - a vending machine for the firm's books to be installed on train platforms.

"Stories differ as to whether this machine was ever made, with some reports suggesting at least one machine was installed at Charing Cross Station in London...."

"...'When Allen Lane founded Penguin in 1935 he had a pretty simple, but pretty radical idea: make great literature available to everyone at an affordable price and for it to appeal not just to the wallet, but to literary taste and the eye, with beautifully designed jackets and style,' says Mr Makinson...."

75 years later, Penguin books are still selling: so that radical idea seems to have been a rather good one, after all.

Interestingly, Penguin books haven't been selling in Brazil: yet. Apparently that's going to change soon, too.

The BBC quotes Penguin's chief executive and chairman, John Makinson, on paperbacks and e-books: "There's also nothing cool about owning enormous quantities of e-books," which I'm taking a bit out of context.

Keep reading: "...'For the children's market, the iPad is fantastic. On the iPad in the US, there was only one book pre-loaded and that was our edition of Winnie The Pooh,' Mr Makinson adds...."

I rather suspect that Penguin books - virtual and otherwise - will be around for quite a while.

I'm even pretty sure that the codex will be around for quite a while, too: although we're almost certainly seeing a major shift toward data storage and retrieval technology that doesn't involve marks on physical pages. ("The Web Rewires Your Brain: Ain't That Great?" (July 2, 2010), "Data-Driven Art: For an 'Overwhelmed' 'Hive Mind???' " (January 27, 2010))

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