Monday, March 30, 2015

Little Black Classics carry Penguin to new heights

The success of Penguin’s highly portable commute-sized gobbets says much about what modern readers want. 

little black classic book
Penguin Little Black Classics: portability is surely the main factor in their runaway success.

Released to mark Penguin Books’ 80th birthday, the pocket-sized, 80p-a-pop Little Black Classics have been a hit, selling 70,545 copies in the first week of publication.\

The commercial success of the commute-length gobbets – 80 titles ranging from the Communist Manifesto to Sappho’s poems to Mozart’s letters to his father – is striking since they are all in the public domain. To quote a commenter on the Guardian website: “How many of these are not available in full on Project Gutenberg?”

How to explain the appeal? Partly it’s the curation; but it also proves people like their reading matter cheap… and portable.

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