The Best Romance Dime Novels on the (French-Canadian) Market: The Promotional Strategies of Police-Journal, 1944-1963

Publication year
Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Here's the abstract:

Largely overlooked by scholars, dime novels, especially romance, enjoyed spectacular popularity in French Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. Based on an analysis of the editorial peritexts of the ‘Police-Journal’ (P-J) series, the present paper seeks to understand the marketing strategies used to sell dime novels, deployed by the most important popular publisher in Quebec. In the first section, we show how P-J attempted to present itself as “the best in the business.” It constantly heralded its success and extolled the global quality of its publications. In the second section, we demonstrate how the publication of separate series did not stop P-J from trying to attract readers to its entire catalog. The third section analyses how P-J navigated the troubled waters of a French-Canadian society torn between the more emancipated aspirations of an increasingly urbanized population and its elites’ conservative ideology. P-J had to offer a product that was exciting enough to appeal to the crowd, yet sufficiently innocuous to avoid censorship. Overall, our paper underscores P-J’s pioneering marketing practices in French Quebec.

and from the conclusion:

In the field of publishing in Quebec, it is often assumed that Harlequin was a trailblazer in terms of gearing its products towards its readers. Harlequin indeed was the first in the 1970s to constitute a research team entirely devoted to detailing readers’ interests and tastes, multiplying surveys and focus groups. But previous popular publishers also had means of engaging with their readers. This close relationship between the publishers and their readerships has always been crucial in popular fiction, as P-J’s peritext clearly shows. It is this marketing savvy that partly enabled P‑J to enjoy tremendous financial success in the 1940 and 1950s.