The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XIX. Later Magazines
§ 2. Advertising
This generosity of offering on the part of the magazines is made possible by an illogically liberal postal policy and by the development of modern advertising. A century ago, and even much later, a magazine carried but a few pages of advertising, mostly announcements of books and articles of stationery. The great development of advertising did not begin until some time after the Civil War, and it perhaps reached its climax about the close of the century. At that time many magazines printed more advertising pages than pages of text. In an earlier day the magazine had derived its revenue from its readers—from yearly subscriptions and from the sale of odd copies. In order to meet expenses the subscription price was placed high, and this price, in turn, kept the number of readers down. Moreover, the fear of alienating subscribers led the publisher to continue on his mailing list many persons who were hopelessly in arrears. The printer’s bill often consumed the greater part of the total income, and both editorial salaries and payments to contributors were meagre. The addition of a large revenue from advertising made it possible to cut the subscription price to the amount that would secure the largest circulation; for advertising rates are determined chiefly by the circulation, and if they can be made to yield enough the receipts from subscriptions become an item of minor importance. It is said that in some states of the market the blank paper on which a successful magazine was printed has cost as much as the publisher received for the edition. Contributors, editorial and office expenses, printer’s bills, and profits were all paid from advertising. The receipts from this source were so large as to make possible honorariums to authors far greater than had been usual before, and large enough to tempt into the pages of the more enterprising magazines almost any writer whom the editor might desire.