Pulps Authors in Paperbacks


Both Hammett and Chandler had their novels originally published as hardbacks. But both of them, like so many original hardboiled writers from the first generation  reached a mass readership through two other forms created by the publishing industry: The pulp magazines in which their short stories were first published, and the paperback. The latter’s rise, starting in the early 1940s, ensured the continued  circulation of their work. In 1933 Chandler published his first fiction (“Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”) in Black Mask (which had been launched in 1920) and continued publishing there and in other detection magazines until 1941. He saw this as an apprenticeship of sorts, which helped him develop as a writer. As he later recalled: ” the literary standard was flexible and there was a chance to get “paid while learning”, and ” although the average story in Black Mask was not too good, there was a possibility of writing them very much better without hurting their chances of being read” (Franck MacShane, ed. Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, New York, Columbia UP, 1981, p.86).

It is somewhat ironic that Chandler’s pulp apprenticeship finished just in time for the paperback revolution.


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