A. G. Stephens began the 'Red Page', a literary section in the Bulletin, in 1896. Augmenting the previous book columns, the 'Red Page' quickly became an influential forum for criticism of new books, providing Stephens with a reputation as one of Australia's most astute and powerful critics of Australian literature.
In 1899 Stephens attempted to attract the many readers of the 'Red Page' to his own magazine the Bookfellow. Although this venture lasted for only five issues, it published the poetry of Barcroft Boake, Frank Morton, Ethel Turner, Mary Hannay Foott and Victor Daley. In addition, Stephens printed French poetry and welcomed translations from readers. He also commissioned Christopher Brennan to write on the 'New French Poetry'. Stephens's contributions included book reviews and more substantial articles such as 'Henry Lawson and Literature'. Combined with the advertisements and notices from booksellers, the Bookfellow offered a sophisticated alternative to the Bulletin. But after the final fifth issue the concerns of the Bookfellow were incorporated into the small space the Bulletin provided for the 'Red Page'.
In October 1906 Stephens left the Bulletin and opened a bookshop on Hamilton Street, Sydney, called The Bookfellow's. On January 3 1907 the Bookfellow was revived as a weekly companion publication to promote new books and provide a forum for original works of Australian literature. Described as a 'high-class family magazine of general interest', the Bookfellow was distributed to all states of Australia and to New Zealand. The new series of the Bookfellow attracted contributions from many poets, including Mary Gilmore, John Shaw Neilson, Roderic Quinn, Hubert Church and James Hebblethwaite. Continuing the format of the earlier series, French and other European literature remained a significant subject. Various competitions were conducted to encourage reader participation, including translations, prose responses to certain themes, and limericks. In addition to literary subjects, the magazine printed articles on general subjects such as dog breeding and rose-growing. Despite the quality of this new series of the Bookfellow, the magazine failed to attract enough subscribers. By August 1907 the magazine and bookshop were failing financially. Stephens was forced to end both ventures and sell all the stock, including his own books, to stabilise his personal finances.
Despite the finacial catastrophe of earlier ventures, the Bookfellow was again revived in 1911. Except for a three-year hiatus during the First World War, the magazine remained in print (sometimes irregularly) for fourteen years. Throughout this period, Stephens continued to promote new books and print new Australian writing, drawing regular support from John Shaw Neilson, Hugh McCrae and Mary Gilmore. Christopher Brennan was also commissioned to continue his articles on French poetry. In 1919, when the magazine resumed production after the war, the literary content was significantly reduced and the Bookfellow began to appear less regularly. Unable to attract the number of subscriptions required to continue, and overburdened with the work required to attract advertisers and oversee the production, Stephens allowed the Bookfellow to lapse for the last time in March 1925.