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Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain 1914–1950$
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Joseph McAleer

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203292

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203292.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 08 December 2021

‘Books Are a Commodity’: The Commercialization of Popular Fiction

‘Books Are a Commodity’: The Commercialization of Popular Fiction

(p.42) 2 ‘Books Are a Commodity’: The Commercialization of Popular Fiction
Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain 1914–1950

Joseph McAleer

Oxford University Press

Record levels of production and the introduction of ‘commodity-style’ publishing techniques gave popular fiction an exposure to such a degree that it was woven into the cultural fabric of the nation. In a leading article in 1930, The Publishers' Circular ranked books with the ‘indispensable necessities of life’, and condemned the ‘intellectual snobbery’ of booksellers and publishers who still regarded the trade as a sacred luxury-in spite of declining sales. However, commercialisation was also a matter of financial necessity. Within the context of a broad overview of the period 1914–50, this chapter shows how the mass commercialisation of popular publishing, the turning of books into ‘commodities’, occurred, and why it occurred. The genuine paradox of publishing at this time — the depression of the magazine market between the wars — is also examined.

Keywords:   commodity, popular fiction, mass commercialization, publishing, magazine market, booksellers

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