Books for the people in the post-war period – cheap books, market and readers

Project: Research

Layman's description

During the period 1940 to 1960, four different series of ‘books for the people’ were published. These were inexpensive books, distributed in large quantities through book agents across Sweden. This project investigates the material conditions in terms of printing technique, sales and the book market, as well as the popular educational literature that was sold during the period.

The ‘books for the people’ played an important role in the development of the Swedish book trade from 1940 to 1960. The book market contradicted itself – on the one hand it was averse to change, on the other hand it was innovative when it came to sales systems, marketing and views of reading. Printed text was at this time the dominant medium, despite competition from radio and cinema.

The book series had the express goal of reaching new readers and educating the ordinary worker. What is interesting about this publication is that, through its low prices, clever marketing and innovative distribution methods, it reached new readers in the modern Sweden that emerged in the post-war period. This project examines the texts in terms of their audience, how they were distributed and the influence they had.

The literature concerned is four different series of popular educational books that began publication in the 1940s: Tidens bokklubb, Folket i Bilds folkböcker, Bonniers folkbibliotek and Vingförlagets böcker. These series reflected education ideals, but were published and distributed on the commercial terms of the market.

This project also addresses the particular distribution system that was developed during the period, in the form of interested readers who became book agents in workplaces and among neighbours, and the criteria that guided the choice of titles both at the publishing houses and for fiction reading among unaccustomed readers.
Effective start/end date2007/01/012012/12/31