Frank Munsey

Frank A. Munsey
Frank A. Munsey, (1910)
Frank A. Munsey, (1910)
BornFrank Andrew Munsey
21 August 1854
Mercer, Maine, United States
Died22 December 1925(1925-12-22) (aged 71)
New York City, New York, United States
OccupationPublisher, author
LanguageEnglish

Frank Andrew Munsey (21 August 1854 – 22 December 1925) was an American newspaper and magazine publisher and author. He was born in Mercer, Maine, but spent most of his life in New York City. The village of Munsey Park, New York is named for him, along with the Munsey Building in downtown Baltimore, Maryland at the southeast corner of North Calvert Street and East Fayette Street.

Munsey is credited with the idea of using new high-speed printing presses to print on inexpensive, untrimmed, pulp paper in order to mass-produce affordable (typically ten-cent) magazines. Chiefly filled with various genres of action and adventure fiction, that were 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 Munsey quite wealthy. He often shut down the printing process and changed the content of magazines when they became unprofitable, quickly starting new ones in their place.

Beginnings

Munsey was of English ancestry, his family emigrated from England to America during the colonial era in the early 1600s.[1] Early in life, Munsey ran a general store, at which he failed. He next became a telegraph operator and then manager of the Western Union telegraph office, in Augusta, Maine. Publishing was a formidable industry in Augusta at the time. Munsey was very ambitious, and being in charge of the telegraph office (a vital connection for the news media of his day) gave him a unique insight of the printing business. In 1882 he moved from Augusta to New York City and entered the publishing industry, having used his savings to purchase rights to several stories. He formed a partnership with a friend in New York and an Augusta stockbroker. After arriving in New York, the stockbroker backed out of the agreement and released his friend from any further financial obligations. Approaching a New York publisher, Munsey managed to edit and produce the first issue of his magazine, Golden Argosy, only two months and nine days after his arrival.

However, 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 barely managed to keep the magazine going while learning enough about the publishing industry to eventually succeed.

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