Over the years, many attempts have been made to print novels at a price within the reach of even the poorest readers. Magazines that anthologized popular novels were attempted at various times, beginning in the 1700s and going right through the Victorian era. Tiny type, multiple columns, and cheap paper were the usual economizations; but if you can put up with the type (and pinch-zoom is your best friend if you have a tablet), these publications often preserve entertaining stories not easily found anywhere else.


The Novelist's Magazine. London: Harrison & Co.
Vol. IX (1782). Sentimental Journey, Gulliver's Travels, David Simple, Sir Launcelot Greaves, The Peruvian Princess, and Jonathan Wild.


The Romancist, and Novelist's Library: the best works of the best authors. Edited by William Hazlitt. London: J. Clements. —Tiny type and three columns, but the formidable William Hazlitt had more taste than one might usually expect to find in an editor of this sort of publication. He seems to have had a particular love of the Gothic.
Volume III (1840). —Filled with treasures. The Italian by Mrs. Radcliffe is here, and Polidori's Vampyre; but the greatest treasure of all is J. W. Reynolds' Mocha Dick; or, the White Whale of the Pacific, a rare tale that would be eagerly devoured by an American named Herman Melville. —We have found an easier-to-read copy of Mocha Dick, its original appearance in the Knickerbocker for May, 1839.

The Romancist and Novelist's Library. Edited by William Hazlitt. New Series. London: John Clements.—The new series is printed in larger (though still small) type and in single columns, leaving room for only half a dozen novels and stories per large issue.
Volume I (1841).
Another copy.

Volume IV (1842).


The Novel Newspaper, later The Library of Foreign Romance and Novel Newspaper. —The Victorians exhausted their ingenuity in coming up with cheaper and cheaper ways to print novels. Tiny type, two columns, and cheap paper combined to make popular books available at a shilling, a price within the reach of the lowest literate classes.
Vol. II, Containing:—
The Hungarian Brothers, and Don Sebastian, by Miss A, M. Porter.

Peter Pilgrim, & Nick of the Woods, by Dr. Bird.

Horse-Shoe Robinson, by J. P. Kennedy Esq.

Captain Kyd, and The Pirate, by the author of "Southwest." [The author is identified in this advertisement as "Ingraham."]

London: J. Cunningham, 1830

Vol. VIII (missing overall title page, so have fun exploring it on your own)

Unknown Volume (another without an overall title page, ripe for exploration; it includes Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield and at least some of Davey Crockett's autobiography)