Launch a 3-cent magazine

5 of 5 posts in 3-Cent Magazine

The idea for a four-page magazine emerged on an otherwise idle afternoon in 1972, in a 3rd floor walkup on Pender Street in Vancouver across the alley from the Marble Arch beer parlour, where Pulp Press Book Publishers had been in operation for about two months. One of us had discovered that you could get 5,000 words onto an 8.5 by 11 inch piece of paper in 5 point type if you weren’t too picky about margins. The trick was folding the sheet over to make leaves, and then we hit on the idea of charging three cents a copy and signing over the whole price to bookstores that would agree to carry it on their front counter.

We chose three cents as the cover price because there was a tax on books at that time so anyone making a purchase in a bookstore always had a few pennies in their change, and we announced a biweekly publishing schedule because we were too young to know better, and a subscription price of $10 a year, which represented to us, as we put it in our subscription offers, a considerable saving over the cover price of three cents a copy. Within a year we had 250 subscribers and a corresponding budget of $2500; editors and contributors were never paid and neither was the rent or the phone or the bill for the telex rolls we used for correspondence, all of which came from other sources. We printed 1000 copies and shipped them out in bundles to bookstores across the country and engaged the post office on the question of 2nd class mail privileges, which at that time extended only to newspapers; for six months the most eloquent writer among us, a poet and a songwriter of some renown, typed out a series of letters on one of the telex rolls–the telex roll came with carbon paper built in, so copies of all correspondence from that period has been preserved in bulldog clips that we hung on the wall in an ever-lengthening row. In the end the eloquent poet won the argument with the post office by proving beyond doubt that our three-cent magazine was indeed a newspaper, with the result that 3-Cent Pulp was the first literary magazine in the country to qualify for the postal subsidy.

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