See biography by G. Britt, Forty Years, Forty Millions (1935, repr. 1971).
(born Aug. 21, 1854, Mercer, Maine, U.S.—died Dec. 22, 1925, New York City, N.Y.) U.S. newspaper and magazine publisher. He managed a telegraph office before moving to New York City, where he founded Golden Argosy (1882), later renamed Argosy Magazine; and Munsey's Magazine (1889), the first inexpensive, general-circulation, illustrated magazine in the U.S. He acquired several newspapers in Baltimore and New York, some of which disappeared in profitable mergers. He viewed his publications purely as moneymaking enterprises and maintained colourless editorial policies. He left most of his large fortune to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
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Munsey is credited with the idea of using new high-speed printing presses to print on inexpensive, untrimmed, pulp paper to mass produce affordable (typically ten cent) magazines, chiefly filled with various genres of action and adventure fiction and aimed at working-class readers who could not afford and were not interested in the content of the 25-cent slick magazines of the time. This innovation, known as pulp magazines, became an entire industry unto itself and made him quite wealthy. Munsey often closed down or changed the content of magazines when they became unprofitable, quickly starting new ones in their place.
In 1882 he moved from Augusta to New York City to enter the publishing industry, having used his savings to purchase rights to several stories and arranged to form a partnership with a friend in New York and an Augusta stock broker. The stock broker backed out after he arrived in New York, and he released his friend from any obligations. Pitching the magazine to a New York publisher, Munsey managed to edit and publish the first issue of his magazine, Golden Argosy, only two months and nine days after his arrival.
Five months later, the publisher went bankrupt and entered receivership. By placing a claim for his unpaid salary, Munsey was able to take control of the magazine. Borrowing $300 from a friend in Maine, he managed, barely, to keep the magazine going while learning enough about the publishing industry to succeed.
In 1889 he founded Munsey's Weekly, a 36-page quarto magazine, designed to be "a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout. It was a success, soon selling 40,000 copies per week. In 1891 the magazine became a monthly, Munsey's Magazine, in 1892 the magazine began to include a "complete novel" in every issue, and in 1893 the price was dropped to ten cents per issue. By 1895 circulation was over half a million copies per month, by 1897, 700,000 copies per month. In October, 1906, he began publishing Railroad Man's Magazine, the first specialized pulp magazine which featured railroad related stories and articles. It was soon followed by a similar magazine, The Ocean, which featured sea stories and articles. The Ocean debuted with the March 1907 issue; after the January 1908 issue, it changed title and content to the general purpose The Live Wire, which also had a short run.
The sale of the Herald in 1924 left Munsey owning only two newspapers. The Evening Telegram was sold to Scripps-Howard in 1927, two years after Munsey's death.
Other Munsey pulps and magazines included Puritan, Junior Munsey, All-Story Magazine, Scrap Book, Cavalier, Railroad and Current Mechanics.
Munsey also authored several novels:
After his death, the Frank A. Munsey Company continued publishing various magazines, including pulp detective fiction, such as (Flynn's) Detective Fiction and All-Story Love. In 1942 they sold out to rival pulp publisher Popular Publications.