Railways and Reading

From the earliest, the railway and reading went together. This was evident, in its most obvious form, in the railway bookstall. In Britain, the firm of WH Smith was launched from a bookstall, at Euston, and grew to become a nationwide high-street newsagent and wholesale newspaper distributor…

Here’s the story in more detail


That was in the 1840s. More recently, Penguin Books launched the paperback revolution, at the end of the 1930s, from a station platform.

Roy Porter has written about the 18C British Enlightenment and described the changes in reading patterns that happened as a consequence of the huge expansion of letterpress printing.

In the 19C, the railways supported a similarly dramatic change in reading habits…expanding the market for magazines and short-stories, and for dramatic news of murder, mayhem, accidents and disaster…

The thrills of ghost stories and crime fiction quickly became a staple of railway journeys…


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