In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was talking about some of dime novels, saying:

The young man went into the tent, and shortly returned with an armful of yellow-covered, paper-bound small volumes, which he flung in profusion at the feet of the man from Toronto. They were mostly Beadle’s Dime Novels, which had a great sale at the time.

“There,” he said, “you have quantity, quality, and variety, as I have before remarked. ‘The Murderous Sioux of Kalamazoo;’ that’s a good one. A hair-raising Indian story in every sense of the word. The one you are looking at is a pirate story, judging by the burning ship on the cover. But for first-class highwaymen yarns, this other edition is the best. That’s the ‘Sixteen String Jack set.’ They’re immense, if they do cost a quarter each. You must begin at the right volume, or you’ll be sorry. You see, they never really end, although every volume is supposed to be complete in itself. They leave off at the most exciting point, and are continued in the next volume. I call that a pretty good idea, but it’s rather exasperating if you begin at the last book. You’ll enjoy this lot. I’m glad I brought them along.”

I found that such novels usually cost five- and ten-cent, so I think that their mentioned price, i.e "quarter", makes them expensive, so does "if" here mean "although"?

  • 1
    Were they allowed to call them "dime novels" when they were selling them for more than a dime?
    – user14111
    Jan 8, 2021 at 13:38
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    I think that "dime" refers to their cheapness, not literally their exact price. Jan 8, 2021 at 13:58
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    "if 4.a. Even if, even though; though; granted that." (Oxford English Dictionary) Jan 9, 2021 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


It's not necessarily perfect grammar. People often speak elliptically.

Consider it like "These chocolate chip cookies are amazing, even if they do cost three dollars each."

So he's saying: "They're immense, [and so are worth it even] if they do cost a quarter each.".

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