Browne Popular Culture Library

Publishing Timeline Exhibit

Related Collections
Nickel Weeklies
Pulp Magazines
Vintage Paperbacks
Dime Novels

Below is a quick timeline for published print materials in the BPCL. Check out the Related Collections box to the right for collections housed in the BPCL and click on the images to find slideshows with more examples of these interesting kinds of publications.


First appeared in 1830 and were published in newspaper size with family-oriented topics.

Dime Novels

First appeared in 1860 published by Beadles in small paperback format. These were originally aimed at adult readers and included topics such as sea stories, war stories, romances, and westerns. They later published titles aimed at teenagers which included additional topics related to sports and recurring heroes. The last dime novel was published in 1933.

Nickel Weeklies

First appeared in 1866 after the Civil War as magazine style publications with stories similar to dime novels. Topics included westerns, sports, adventure, mystery, and romance. Many of these had recurring heroes or characters which appeared in the series regularly.

Pulp Magazines

First appeared in the 1890s and were published as magazines made of wood pulp paper. The richly illustrated covers portrayed the various topics of the stories which included adventures, romances, westerns, science fiction, and mysteries. Each issue contained multiple stories by various authors. Some famous authors launched their careers by writing stories in pulps magazines. A few of these include Dashiell Hammett, H.P. Lovecraft, and Isaac Asimov. Pulps remained popular until around the 1950s.


First appeared in the 1700s, but were more like books. Magazines for the mass market did not appear until the late 1800s and progressed to what we see today as a standard magazine, usually including stories, advertisements, and photographs. Some specific examples of magazines and their arrival include Photoplay (for movie fans) in 1912, TV Guide and Playboy in 1953, and Entertainment weekly in 1990.

Fanzines (Zines)

First appeared in the 1930s and were self-published magazines. They began with mostly science fiction and eventually included any topic. The zines are usually small press runs (less than 10,000 copies) and rarely contain advertisements. Some zines include topics such as music, movies, entertainers, mystery, science fiction, personal zines (about the individual writing the zine), and dipzines (based on the game Diplomacy).

Vintage Paperbacks

First appeared in the 1930s and continued until the 1960s. These are paperbacks published as series by various publishers including Ace Books, Penguin Books, Dell, etc. The topics include fiction and non-fiction genres.

Hardcover and Mass Market Paperback Books

Hardcover books today are usually made with acid-free paper and may contain a dust jacket. Hardcovers usually cost more than the mass market paperback edition due to the way they are made. Although paperbacks have been around since the mid 1800s, the paperbacks we see today have become the standard format (mass market) and include all types of genres and subject areas. They are made inexpensive by using glue and cheaper paper quality. By 1980, 70% of all books sold in the U.S. were paperbacks.

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