Publishing circumstances

All three of the series contained within this digital library were technically published by one publisher—Prensa Popular—despite the variety of imprints that appear even with just these 9 pamphlet novels.

Prensa Popular was based out of Madrid, initially on Calle de la Luna/22 in Madrid though the printing was done on Calle de Antonio Palomino/1. The publishing house’s address changes to Calle de Calvo Asensio/3 beginning with no. 26. However, readers are told to contact the business using a PO Box which is a sign that they were receiving a significant amount of correspondence 1.

The initial series they published was La Novela Corta, whose first issue ran January 15, 1916. They expanded to La Novela Cómica on September 23, 1916 and then La Novela Teatral with its initial issue published December 17, 1916. La Novela Cómica ended on December 7, 1919 with 183 total issues, while the other two series ended with a final issue published June 14, 1925 2.

Among the other publications of Prensa Popular are:

Friné (women's magazine with 17 issues in 1918)
Los animales (children's magazine with 32 issues in 1919)
Kiriki (children's magazine with 18 issues in 1920)
Flirt (men's magazine launched in 1922)
El Folletín (pulp novel series of mostly foreign but some Spanish works beginning in 1923)
La Gracia (humor magazine beginning in 1923)
La Caperucita (children's magazine beginning in 1923)
Goal! (sports magazine)

Friné, Los animales, Flirt, and El Folletín are all advertised in one or more of the 9 pamphlet novels in the digital library. Physical aspects

Both the issues of the three series included in this library and all of the issues of the three series have one thing in common: their distinctive format and appearance. The novels consist of relatively few pages, usually between 16 and 32. However, since the size of the font employed in printing the novels is variable, the number of pages is not necessarily a good metric of how long the texts are 3. La Novela Teatral issues could be even larger with up to 66 pages 4.They are printed on cheap paper sometimes noted as being “special paper” from La Papelera Española. They are also all about the same size: roughly 5.25in x 7.75in.

Most are printed in only one or two colors. La Novela Corta used red and black for its regular issues and green and black for special issues honoring specific authors 5. La Novela Teatral seems to be regularly the most colorful and attractive with caricatures of writers (not necessarily the author of the issue in question) being the usual cover illustration. For La Novela Corta and La Novela Cómica, it is more common to have a black and white photograph of the author’s head as the cover illustration, though in later issues of La Novela Corta the cover art is in color and more directly related to the content of the story. The typographical prominence of the author’s name and the relative unimportance of the title on La Novela Corta combined with advertisements of the authors featured in La Novela Corta leads to the conclusion that the author was more important in selling these pamphlet novels than the title.

Price & Print Run

A notable feature of the publications of Prensa Popular were their low price. La Novela Corta began with a price of 5 céntimos which was much lower than other competitors. There existed “números extra” which were longer and cost 10 céntimos. In 1918, all issues are termed “números extra” and priced at 10 céntimos, regardless of length. Mogin-Martin believes this is due to a general rise in prices that made maintaining the initial 5 céntimos price impossible. In 1919, the regular numbers are 10 céntimos and the “números extra” are 20 céntimos. Another price hike to 20 céntimos occurred in 1922, but this was due to the incorporation of color printing for the covers and interior black and white illustrations 6. Since La Novela Teatral was fairly consistently printed in color, it started at a higher price of 10 céntimos, but by the end of its publishing run it was at 50 céntimos 7.

The low price was likely complemented by large print runs, possibly up to 300,000 copies per issue as a maximum with an average of 30,000-50,000 copies per issue 8.

Publishing purpose

La Novela Corta and other series were published with very specific purposes in mind, though this purpose did change over the course of the series’ lifetime. In two different texts, Al lector and Nuestro propósito in nos. 1 and 2 of La Novela Corta, the publication states that it is trying to put literature within the grasp of people without the means to buy full books. Through series like the La Novela Corta and La Novela Teatral, they wanted to bring quality literature by well-known authors to the masses. However, as time passed, Prensa Popular diversified into publications with a greater leisure (“ocio”) and commercial aspect than edifying 9. Distribution methods

The main two distribution methods for La Novela Corta and the other series are subscription and newsstand sales. Subscriptions were most common in 1916, and advertising for subscriptions reappears between 1920 and 1921, but in between subscription is not mentioned within the issues 10. It would seem then that newsstand sales were the more regular method of distribution.

Additionally, Mogin-Martin points out that despite the Madrid-centric quality of the advertisements, the Prensa Popular publications enjoyed distribution outside of Madrid 11. In the initial issues of La Novela Corta like El Hombre Negro by Carmen de Burgos, subscription prices are listed for “Madrid and the provinces” (Madrid y las provincias) and for “Foreign locales” (Extranjero).


  1. Roselyne Mogin-Martin, La Novela Corta. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2000) p. 26. 

  2. Mogin-Martin, p. 26; María Teresa García-Abad Garcia, La Novela Cómica. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1997) pp. 4, 7. 

  3. Mogin-Martin, p. 31. 

  4. José Antonio Pérez Bowie. La Novela Teatral. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1996) p. 11. 

  5. Mogin-Martin, p. 31. 

  6. Mogin-Martin, p. 30. 

  7. Pérez Bowie, pp. 12-13. 

  8. Pérez Bowie, p. 7. 

  9. Mogin-Martin, pp. 27-28. 

  10. Mogin-Martin, p. 35. 

  11. Mogin-Martin, p. 35.