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U.S. Census Bureau Daily Feature for July 30: 70 Years of Softcovers


WASHINGTON, July 29 -- Following is the daily “Profile America” feature for July 30 from the U.S. Census Bureau:


Profile America for Saturday, July 30. It may sound odd, but a lasting revolution was started by a penguin. Penguin was the name of the publishing house that brought out the first modern paperback book on this day 70 years ago, a biography of the poet Shelley. The idea behind these editions came from Allen Lane, in reaction to the Depression. Publishing paperbacks allowed him to lower his costs, sell more books and save his printing business. The lower cost and convenience of the softcover format caught on and has remained popular. Today, in spite of competition from television and computers, Americans buy some 2.2 billion books each year -- six out of 10 of them softcover. To pursue their reading, they spend $39 billion annually. Find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau on the Web at


Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments ready to air on a monthly CD or on Internet at (look under the “Newsroom” button). For further information, contact Rick Reed at 301-763-2812, fax at 301-457-3670, or e-mail at


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