Defining Print Culture for Youth: The Cultural Work of Children's Literature

By Anne Lundin; Wayne A. Wiegand | Go to book overview

7
TURNING CHILD READERS
INTO CONSUMERS:
CHILDREN'S MAGAZINES AND
ADVERTISING, 1900–1920

Catherine Van Horn

A Children's Magazine column writer who pleaded with her youthful readers in 1908 to pay more attention to the periodical's advertising pages showed signs of the stress that the new mass-marketing age could place on children's publications. Advertising had been a part of publishing in the United States since the colonial era, but only in the latter part of the nineteenth century—with an increase in industrial production and the rise of branded, mass-marketed goods, among other developments—did it become a key form of press financing. Newspapers and magazines that traditionally had made money through political party subsidies or through subscriptions and single-copy sales instead increasingly sought revenue from advertising.1 When a publication's growing dependence on advertising met with advertiser ambivalence about the publication's worth, disaster loomed: “(T)hey say I don't bring enough letters to our advertisers, yet,” the column writer told Children's Magazine readers, “Suppose they discharge me! Oh dear! Who will help me?”2

That the columnist discussed advertising with the magazine's readers emphasizes the importance both advertisers and audiences held for turnof-the-century publications. As mass-magazine publishers and national advertisers developed closer ties in the late nineteenth century, the traditional relationship between a periodical and its readers became a threeway affair. Magazine publishers relying on subscriptions for profit had to please readers. But an increasing reliance on advertising dollars meant publishers had to satisfy both readers and advertisers. Some magazines

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Defining Print Culture for Youth: The Cultural Work of Children's Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1: Reading and Re-Reading 1
  • 2: Communism for Kids 27
  • 3: Publishing Pride 41
  • 4: The Power of Black and White 61
  • 5: Defining Democracy for Youth Through Textbooks 77
  • 6: [Being Poor Doesn't Count] 101
  • 7: Turning Child Readers into Consumers 121
  • 8: Learning to Be a Woman 139
  • 9: Kate Chopin and the Birth of Young Adult Fiction 155
  • 10: Reading Nancy Drew in Urban India 169
  • Index 197
  • About the Editors and Contributors 203
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