A summary of American periodicals from 1741 when the Bay Psalm Book appeared. In the 18th century there was the high cost of distribution and the mail service was erratic (h'mmmm) and while at first these early magazines were unitative of their English forebears, they later began to reflect national life and permit political and literary criticism. Publications rise (Harper's the most successful of its era, followed by the Atlantic and the Century) and fall; advertising makes them a big business, and with radio and television, there's the downward spiral. Only The New Yorker has remained the most loyal to its original editor's concept and has proved immune to contemporary influences. In separate chapters, Mr. Tebbel covers the more specialized religious press, little magazines, business and black periodicals, etc. etc. and the work is reasonably inclusive if unevaluative over and above the commonly overheard criticisms (Time's bias). All in journalese.