The Rise and Fall of Pulps
The figure below shows the number of unique pulp titles published in an average month, i.e. the number of pulps on a newsstand that carried every pulp published, for every year from 1895 to 1960. It also shows, for every year, the total number of pulp issues published in an average month; this is higher because some pulps were published more than once a month. The information included in this figure was compiled by John Locke―an author, cultural historian, publisher, and advisory board member for the Pulp Magazines Project; his conclusions, based on this information, are also included below.
Explanation of graph lines
Lower line: represents, for every year, the number of unique pulp titles published in an average month; i.e. the number of pulps on a newsstand that carried every pulp published
Upper line: represents, for every year, the total number of pulp issues published in an average month; this figure is higher because some pulps were published more than once a month
The gap between the two lines: The Age of the Weeklies (bi-monthlies, tri-monthlies, etc.), i.e. the period when the pulp magazine market was strong enough to support titles with greater than monthly publication frequency
Key events in timeline of pulps (grouped by decade)
1900-28: decline of dime novels
1930s early: pulp cover prices, page lengths, circulations drop
1940-49: Street & Smith comics
1949-50: sales of TV sets boom
© 2012 John Locke
This material has been reprinted—by permission of the author—from materials presented during his lecture, "The Rise and Fall of the Pulps: and the Authors Who Rose and Fell With Them," which took place at the Thompson Library, Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, August 9, 2012, 4:30-5:30 PM. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Aldus Society and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library of the OSU Libraries, in conjunction with Pulpfest 2012.