Books the Cost of Cigarettes? I dare you Penguin!

The septuagenarian publishing company is celebrating its 75 anniversary. But rather than blow out 75 candles, it has pumped out 75 classics for our reading consumption.

The 75 new Popular Penguins feature 13 titles by some of Australia’s best known writers, including Thea Astley, Isobelle Carmody, Bryce Courtenay and Tim Winton

The first Penguin paperbacks appeared in the summer of 1935 and included works by Ernest Hemingway, André Maurois and Agatha Christie. They were colour coded – orange for fiction, blue for biography and green for crime – and cost sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes, according to Penguin.

The latest batch of Popular Penguins are in bookstores now.

(taken from the Carte Blanche  ,The Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)


One cannot help but notice that the whole pricing deal for books is very different now.

…and cost sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes

Now I haven’t bought a book in Australia for 18 months, but wandering through stores and occasionally buying books  in Canada is a favourite activity, and trust me when I say that the cost of a paperback book is nowhere near as ‘affordable’ as a packet of cigarettes.

Of course, not being a smoker, I had to do some research to write that last line with any authority, which resulted in my trolling though the internet to find the cost of smokes, raising eyebrows around here. With approximately ten packets in a carton, and the cheapest carton I could find being $55 (Marlboro King Size) then the cost of an individual packet of cigarettes is $5.50 a pack.

Any bookworm would know that getting the latest best seller for $5.50 is to dream the impossible dream.  Heck, it’s almost impossible to get a modern day classic for $5.50.  The Popular Penguins  are priced at AUS$9.95 (tax in) which is CAD$8.98 which is still not as cheap as a packet of cigarettes, but it is getting there.

The only other thing I would add in my thoughts is that when Penguin started publishing books for the cost of a packet of cigarettes, the stories they were offering were not as old as they are now. That is, they were much closer to being considered ‘modern’ stories. And there are no current best sellers on the Popular Penguin list that I can see.

 I get giddy at the thought of being able to fuel my addiction to the written word so affordably. Come on Penguin; I dare you. Start making cheap as ciggies books, because everyone knows that reading is a much healthier habit!

Speak Your Mind

CommentLuv badge