Blog: Thoughts and comments on the world of the pulp magazines

Going back to Bonnett’s

Posted by at 10:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015 in Pulp History, Pulps, ThePulp.Net
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Going back to Bonnett’s

One of the regular haunts in Dayton, Ohio, for folks attending the old Pulpcon or PulpFest was just a few blocks down the street from the Convention Center. Bonnett’s Books first opened its doors on East 5th Avenue in 1939.

Seventy-six years later, Bonnett’s is still there (whereas PulpFest has moved about 70 miles east to Columbus).

I happened to be in Dayton recently and had a chance to swing by Bonnett’s. I’d visited it a couple of times during my only other Dayton trip, for Pulpcon 35 in 2006. And I had remembered a photo on its wall.

Bonnett's Book Store in 1941.

Bonnett’s Book Store in 1941.

It was taken in 1941 at the same 5th Avenue location, but when Bonnett’s billed itself as “Ohio’s Largest Dealers in Back-Issue Magazines.” And, boy, did they have a selection of back-issue magazines.

Just look at those stacks of Spicy Mystery pulps on that center table. As well as the pulps along the walls. You wouldn’t have had to pay full cover price for them, either.

Kevin and Greg Bonnett, who own the store these days, gave me a copy of the photo. They had some printed out, and kept them in a folder by the cash register since getting a number of requests for them during the Pulpcon/PulpFest days.

(Their grandmother, Ruth Bonnett, is second from left in the photo, by the way. She and her husband, Hal Murray Bonnett, opened the store. Hal, as Kevin reminded me in an email, also wrote for the pulps — including Clues, Detective Fiction Weekly and Black Mask — during the 1930s.)

If you’re ever in the Dayton area, Bonnett’s is well worth a stop.

I did purchase a couple of pulps during my visit. The Dime Mystery Magazine that I picked up has a Bonnett’s stamp on the cover — that was the primary reason for that purchase.

In addition to posting it above, I’ve also added the Bonnett’s picture to ThePulp.Net’s growing gallery of pulp photos. This photo brings the total number of different photos in the gallery to 98.

If you haven’t explored the gallery recently, click on over for a trip back to a period in history when fiction magazines covered the newsstands.


  1. I’ll have to get by there this summer. I checked Hagemann’s Black Mask index and Hal Murray Bonnett had a story in the April 1938 issue “Dynamite Deal”.

  2. Bill, I live in Dayton and usually don’t stop by the store much anymore. If you wonder why, I will simply ask, Did you purchase anything else at the store? The grandsons are pretty nice guys though.

    • I really wasn’t looking for anything in particular while I was there. But I did pick up a Dime Mystery Magazine from 1940 and a Doc Savage digest from ’45. I considered a book on the movie serials that I’d remembered reading in high school, but decided I really didn’t need it.

  3. Bonnett’s picked up many unsold newstand copies in their early days. Did those Spicy pulps in the photo have their covers? It appears to me that they did not. The story that I remember is that the unsold newstand copies were picked up in the dump. Hal also wrote some sleaze soft covers under the name Tennob. He gave me a signed copy of one of those books. Previously I had sold him some of the pulps in which his stories appeared.

    • You’re right about the Spicy pulps; they don’t appear to have covers. I was focusing on reading the spines and didn’t notice that.

      I wasn’t aware that Hal continued writing after his pulp period, but that makes sense. Thanks, Jack!

  4. Many times prior to Pulpcon I visited Bonnett’s, especially in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I remember a couple years I filled my car up with pulps bought at Bonnett’s and Richard Clear’s The Dragon’s Lair, which was a bookstore not that far away. Then when I went to Pulpcon, not only did I have very little space in my car but I had very little money left.

    Hal Bonnett was an unofficial guest of honor at a Dayton Pulpcon in the 1970’s and gave a nice speech about writing for the pulps. He lived a long life and died in his 90’s I believe. I bet Jack Irwin remembers Hal Bonnett at Pulpcon.


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