In October 1831, twenty-five year old French journalist and publisher Émile de Girardin launched the Journal des connaissances utiles indiquant à tous les hommes qui savent lire. In keeping with Girardin's policy of maximizing circulation by publishing at a low price, the Journal was sold for only 4 francs per year. The title page of the first volume boldly stated that 100,000 copies of the journal were printed--a circulation for an issue of a periodical that had not previously been achieved in France, or anywhere else.
Girardin published the Journal under the auspices of the Bureaux de la Société Nationale pour l'Émancipation Intellectuelle, a French adaptation of concepts promoted by the English Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK). Unlike the SDUK's The Penny Magazine published by Charles Knight, Girardin kept the format of the Journal modest, with much small type and a bare minimum of simple woodcuts.
According to Pierre Albert, "Le Journal des connaissances utiles de Girardin (1831-1836...) ou la première réussite de la presse à bon marché," Revue du Nord, 66 (1984) 741, in 1831 printing 100,000 copies with the very limited number of printing machines then in Paris required 9 printing machines operated by 5 Parisian printers. Production of each number took a month: composition took 8 days, corrections 3 days, stereotyping 4 days, printing 8 days, and 7 days for folding and distribution. Therefore it was necessary at this time found the Journal des connaissances utiles as a monthly.