Who read these pamphlet novels?
The question of who read La Novela Corta, La Novela Teatral, and La Novela Cómica is to some extent answered explicit statements made by the publisher, the price, and the content of the advertisements included in these series.
As discussed in The Publishing Circumstances, the low price of the pamphlet novels, especially in comparison to similar publications, made these publications affordable to a large portion of the population. Despite their cheap price and print quality, the content of the pamphlet novels was intended to be high quality. In other words, the intention was to put literature written by well-known and well-respected authors within reach of those that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford their works 1.
In the two first issues in paratexts directed specifically towards the audience, the publishers explain their desire to bring the literary distinction of full length books to the common weekly magazine:
“He aquí los propósitos de LA NOVELA CORTA: conciliar el carácter popular del semanario con la aristocracia espiritual del libro. LA NOVELA CORTA publicará obras rigurosamente originales e inéditas de nuestros más preclaros escritores, en unas condiciones editoriales, [que] si bien ruinosas para nuestros intereses personales, fomentarán en cambio el amor a las letras no sólo entre nosotros sino también entre esa masa de lectores forzosamente alejados del libro y confinados en la rutina del semanario” (“Nuestro propósito” in no. 2 El hijo del odio, Jan. 22, 1916)
[I state here the purposes of LA NOVELA CORTA: to reconcile the popular character of the weekly paper with the spiritual aristocracy of the book. LA NOVELA CORTA will publish rigorously original and never before published works from our most illustrious writers, under publishing standards which although possibly ruinous to our personal interests, will in exchange foment a love of letter not only among us, but also in the mass of readers unavoidably removed from the book and confined in the routine of the weekly paper] (my translation)
Additionally, in no. 1 of La Novela Corta in the text entitled “Al Lector”, the phrases used to describe their intended audience include: “el obrero” (the worker), “el artesano” (the artesan), “el bajo pueblo” (the working class), “el vulgo (the masses), and those with “depauperados bolsillos” (impoverished pockets) 2.
Mogin-Martin also points to the eminently practical nature of the products advertised in La Novela Corta even if later the items and services become slightly more luxurious. In her words, the types of advertisements included in these weekly pamphlet novels are not aspirational possessions that a reader could dream about owning. Rather, they’re items that could make life a little bit easier. Possibly most telling are the advertisements for jewelry stores that aren’t necessarily proclaiming the quality of their wares, but instead that they buy gold or will pawn items. They are advertising a way to help people make ends meet 3.
As indicated in Advertising, there is no particular association with a male or a female audience in any of the three series. They advertise goods for either gender.