Popular Papers and Magazines

The dime novel market was supported – more than it was rivaled – by a vast network of periodicals that appealed to similar imaginaries and expectations. In this respect, it is revealing that some magazines were launched before the dime novel collections: the magazine Histoires vraies came out one year before the “Roman d’amour” collection, launched in 1944 and displaying on its first covers the note “Éditions Histoires vraies, located at 1130, Lagauchetière Street East, in Montreal.” When Edgar Lespérance bought Éditions du Bavard from Eugène L’Archevêque in 1947 to found Éditions Police-Journal, the newspaper of the same name already existed since 1942. The Imprimerie Bernard, the publishers of the “Roman d’amour” collection, also published the weekly Le Digeste de l’amour. The practice was thus common and perhaps not surprising from a marketing perspective, given that magazines and novel series passed through the same distribution channels, primarily newsstands, and thus generated mutual publicity. The shared price of $0.10 for both magazines and dime novels reinforced the impression of relative interchangeability.  

 

The fact that each of the major publishers had a periodical or magazine that extended and echoed the effect of their novel collections confirms that dime novels and magazines represented, on the fiction/reality axis, two sides of the same coin. Two distinct registers emerge, each basing itself on the pretext of being “true stories”: “true crime stories” and “true love stories,” the equivalents of the “roman noir” and the “roman rose.” While the novels instructed and guided a readership eager for advice – notably, regarding matters of the heart – the magazine, through its testimonies, letters, biographies and news items, fed and substantiated the fantasies. The (mostly male) readers of criminal investigation magazines found confirmation of their preferred hero’s and heroine’s potential detective adventures, just as the (mostly female) readers of romantic confessions found confirmation of anonymous heroines potentially discovering true love.

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