retro paperbacks

You’ve got to love these ancient paperbacks. You know the kind–they usually have simple covers, the paper is a bare grade above newsprint, the type is small, and the edges of the pages are usually painted some bright color (most often red). This was a fad in book publishing from roughly the 1950s until the late 1970s when pocket books got more sophisticated–and more expensive.

I love these old “retro” style books. When I really began reading a lot of books in earnest, in my early teens, my parents’ den was full of these. The picture above shows a few in my collection. That copy of Doctor Zhivago was printed in 1961. The City Boy, originally published in 1948, was printed in that paperback edition in the early 1970s.

These books were cheaply made and kind of shoddy, but you have to admit, they last for-fricking-ever. I was reading that Doctor Zhivago last night. It’s been 52 years since it rolled off the press.

By contrast, paperbacks today are usually trade sized, and they’re not “pocket” books anymore. People don’t carry books in their pockets like they used to. And they’re more expensive. The cover price for that 1961 Zhivago is 75 cents. Using the Inflation Calculator, I figure that’s $5.68 in modern money.

Guess what the new (2011) paperback version of Doctor Zhivago retails for? $16.95!!!!!!

I miss the old retro pocket books. I wish they’d come back.