The Readers

An extensive telephone survey conducted by Sylvie Provost in the early 1980s provides a portrait of the male and female readers of dime novels in Quebec, across all the genres.[1]

 

The survey revealed that serialized Québécois literature was very widely read, by approximately 15% of the population. These objects were consumed primarily for diversion, enjoyment or relaxation and in every region of Quebec. Readers were aged 15 years old on average, and the duration of the reading period spanned from 6 to 10 years, setting the maximum average age at 25 years old. We also know that the readers (both male and female) of romance dime novels were slightly older than the others.

 

There is every reason to believe that the readership was mobile across the different sub-genres, consuming, for example, detective adventures and romance series at the same time. This readership mobility was strongly encouraged by the publishing house, which produced numerous ads for competing series, taking every opportunity to show off its entire catalogue in the peritext. [2] Nevertheless, the most popular series, hands down, was “Les aventures étranges de l'agent IXE-13, l'as des espions canadiens” (published by Police-Journal and written by Pierre Saurel, the most prolific writer in the field), since it was read by 86% of respondents versus 37% for the fans of romance novels.[3]

 

[1] Sylvie Provost, “Avez-vous déjà lu IXE-13, Albert Brien, Guy Verchères…?”, Études littéraires, vol. 15, no 2, August 1982, p.133-164.

[2] Marie-Pier Luneau and Jean-Philippe Warren, “Le temps des fascicules. Splendeurs et misères d’un format,” forthcoming.

[3] Sylvie Provost, “Avez-vous déjà lu IXE-13, Albert Brien, Guy Verchères…?”, Études littéraires, vol. 15, no 2, August 1982, p.141.