Friday, February 17, 2012


Welcome to  the Random Acts of Kindness Blog Tour sponsored by the reading friendly blogst and At the first, you'll find the sites for the 173 blogs participating with giveaways. My giveaway is an e-copy of one of my books (winner's choice) to someone who leaves a comment today through February 22nd. If you follow my blog on the sidebar, that counts as a second entry, so be sure to tell me if you follow me. If you're already a follower, let me know that as it counts, too. Please leave your email address with your comment. And by the way, please commit a random act of kindness today! Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog:


If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard about dime novels all your reading life. Originally I believed there was only one form of dime novel, but I’ve learned that is far from the case.

Various forms of so-called
dime novels
The term dime novel, though it has a specific meaning, has also become a catch-all term for several different (but related) forms of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. popular fiction, including supposedly true (yeah, right) dime novels, story papers, five- and ten-cent weekly libraries, “thick book” reprints, and sometimes even early pulp magazines. The term was being used as late as 1940, in the short-lived pulp Western Dime Novels. In spirit, dime novels are the antecedent of today’s mass-market paperbacks, comic books, and even television shows and movies based on the dime novel genres. "Dime novel" has become a term to describe any quickly written, lurid potboiler and as such is generally used as derisive term to describe a sensationalized yet superficial piece of written work. Call them what you wish, I yearn to own a few of the genuine old dime novels.

Generally, historians agree that the term "dime novel" originated with the first book in Beadle & Adam's Beadle’s Dime Novel series, MALEASKA, THE INDIAN WIFE OF THE WHITE HUNTER, by Ann S. Stephens, dated June 9, 1860. Aha! A female author breaking in a new tradition! I’m pleased to know that. The novel was essentially a reprint of Stephens's earlier serial that appeared in the Ladies' Companion Magazine in February, March, and April 1839. The dime novels varied in size, even within this first Beadle series, but were roughly 6.5 by 4.25 inches, with 100 pages. The first 28 were published without a cover illustration, in a salmon colored paper wrapper, but a woodblock print was added with issue 29, and reprints of the first 28 had an illustration added to the cover. The books actually were priced at ten cents.

This series ran for 321 issues, and established almost all the conventions of the genre, from the lurid and outlandish story to the melodramatic double titling that was used right up to the very end in the 1920s. Most of the stories were frontier tales reprinted from the vast backlog of serials in the story papers and other sources, as well as many originals.

Beadle’s Dime Novels were immediately popular among young, working-class audiences, owing to an increased literacy rate around the time of the American Civil War. By the War’s end, there were numerous competitors like George Munro and Robert DeWitt crowding the field, distinguishing their product only by title and the color choice of the paper wrappers. As a whole, the quality of the fiction was derided by higher brow critics and the term 'dime novel' quickly came to represent any form of cheap, sensational fiction, rather than the specific format.

Although the larger part of the stories stood alone, in the late 1880s series characters began to appear and quickly grew in popularity. The original Frank Reade stories first appeared in Boys of New York. Old Sleuth, appearing in The Fireside Companion story paper beginning in 1872, was the first dime novel detective and began the trend away from the western and frontier stories that dominated the story papers and dime novels up to that time. He was the first character to use the word “sleuth” to denote a detective, the word’s original definition being that of a bloodhound trained to track. Hooray for Frank Reade! I love reading mysteries with an amateur sleuth - a human sleuth, not a bloodhound.

By 1873, frontier stories, evolving into westerns (Hooray!), were still popular, but the new vogue tended to urban crime stories. One of the most successful titles, Frank Tousey’s New York Detective Library eventually came to alternate stories of the James Gang with stories of Old King Brady, detective.

Dime novels endeared western lore to the nation, even spreading throughout the world, as you’ll learn when you read Julie Garwood’s PRINCE CHARMING. (By now you know that book is one of my all-time favorites.) City people followed the exploits of legendary heroes in the West. Talk about literary license? The fact that most of the tales were pure drivel didn’t matter a whit to their eager audience. The lure was cast, and many took the bait and headed to America’s West.

Has a novel ever influenced you to try something new? 

Don't forget our Random Acts of Kindness Blog Hop. Each participating blog has a prize to offer.

Thanks for stopping by!



Mary @SweepingMe said...

Yes, to try to write. I learned I am not very good at it and prefer to read.

Thanks for the giveaway.
GFC-Mary @Sweepingme

mary_reiss @

books first love said...

always books encourage me to love and live more. When I read a great story it just gives me power and also it's says to me: have a story on your own, one more beautiful if possible than one on the paper.
thanks for the giveaway.
GFC: andreea martes

Unknown said...

i am a reader, not a love to read the posts and comments. Also read novels avidly. Thanks for the insight.

Unknown said...

oh yes, Caroline...please enter my name in for the giveaway!


mitzi underscore wanham at yahoo dot com

Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. said...

Can you imagine how mad those people who went West seeking the world of the dime novels were when they got there and found out what it was really like? Talk about feeling duped!

Filia Oktarina said...

I'm not very good to write, so i prefer to read.
GFC - Filia Oktarina
filiafantasy at gmail dot com

Vinci said...

thanks for the great book hop
WTG on your writing skills too
follow by gfc - dayleb
Books tell me to try something, new
example Julia to Julie - read Julia
Child's bio and her year in France.
Tried her recipes. Liked the review on
the interesting dime novels.
Just love to read.
dayleb at telus dot net

Tiff Pull said...

Thanks for the giveaway. Books always encourage me to remember to live and not take things so seriously.

GFC: tpulliam

Nata Cynthia Artistadonna said...

thank you!
childrensbook13 at aol dot com

Reviewing Shelf said...


Unknown said...

I follow via GFC as an OLD follower as lauriehere and my photo is a stack of books!
I follow you on Twitter as @laurieisreading
I also LIKE your FB page!
Thanks for the GREAT giveaway!
Neat article on the Dime Novel! I've never heard of them and I should! I'm 45! I LOVE contemporary fiction! Your books will be right up my alley!
Thanks for the giveaway!!!
Laurie Carlson
laurieisreading at gmail dot com

Darlene said...

Following you on GFC (Darlene)

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

Thanks for the giveaway!

IdentitySeeker said...

I've only ever heard of Dime novels. Thank you for posting this picture so that I've now seen what they look like. It would be interesting to read one of those.

GFC follower: IdentitySeeker