Since books are basically a luxury item, a purchaser can dispense with them in hard times. One partial solution in the United States has been the issuance of paperback books, long a standard form of book publication in Europe. During the 1930s and 40s the paperbound, pocket-size book rose meteorically in popularity in English-speaking countries, and in the 1950s the "quality" paperback appeared, presenting durable yet inexpensive editions of well-known writers. By 1998 mass-market and trade paperbacks represented about 14% of all books sold in the United States.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.