Originally published by Continuum, the series was founded by editor David Barker in 2003. At the time, Continuum published books on philosophers; series editor Ally-Jane Grossan mentioned that Barker was "an obsessive music fan who thought, 'This is a really cool idea, why don't we apply this to albums'." PopMatters wrote that the range consists of "obscure classics to more usual suspects by the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones".
In 2010, Continuum was bought out by Bloomsbury Publishing, which continues to publish the series. Following a leave, Barker was replaced by Grossan in January 2013. In 2016, Daphne Brooks, Kevin Dettmarr, Amanda Petrusich, and Gayle Wald assumed co-editorial duties.
Two independent books have been spun off of the series. The first, Carl Wilson's 2007 entry on Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love, was expanded for a 2014 Bloomsbury reissue with material not specifically pertaining to the Dion album and retitled Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste. A rejected proposal from writer Brett Milano for an entry on Game Theory's 1987 album Lolita Nation was instead expanded by Milano into a biography on the band's leader Scott Miller; that project, titled Don't All Thank Me at Once: The Lost Genius of Scott Miller was released by 125 Books in 2015.
In August 2017, Bloomsbury announced the launch of 33⅓ Global, an extension of the 33⅓ series to popular music from around the world. The first two sub-series launched were 33⅓ Brazil, edited by Jason Stanyek, and 33⅓ Japan, edited by Noriko Manabe. The first book for 33⅓ Brazil was Caetano Veloso's A Foreign Sound by Barbara Browning. The first books for 33⅓ Japan were Supercell ft. Hatsune Miku by Keisuke Yamada and Yoko Kanno's Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack by Rose Bridges.
As of May 2018[update], 131 books have been published in the main series.
[*] Intentionally mis-numbered
|#||Work (date of book publication)||Artist||Year (album)||Author of book||ISBN #|
|1||Supercell (album) (2017)||Supercell (band) ft. Hatsune Miku||2009||Keisuke Yamada||ISBN 9781501325977|
|2||Yoko Kanno's Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack (2017)||Yoko Kanno||1998||Rose Bridges||ISBN 9781501325854|
|3||Game (Perfume album) (2018)||Perfume||2008||Patrick St. Michel||ISBN 9781501325908|
- Boys for Pele by Amy Gentry on the album by Tori Amos (1996)
- Peepshow by Samantha Bennett on the album by Siouxsie and the Banshees (1988)
- Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version by Jarett Kobek on the album by Ol' Dirty Bastard (1995)
- Switched-On Bach by Roshanak Kheshti on the album by Wendy Carlos (1968)
- Tin Drum by Agata Pyzik on the album by Japan (1981)
- Fantasma by Martin Roberts on the album by Cornelius (1997)
- The Holy Bible by David Evans on the album by Manic Street Preachers (1994)
- Jesus Freak by Will Stockton and D. Gilson on the album by DC Talk (1995)
- One Grain of Sand by Matthew Frye Jacobson on the album by Odetta (1963)
- Southern Accents by Michael Washburn on the album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1985)
- Southern Rock Opera by Rien Fertel on the album by Drive-By Truckers (2001)
- The Wild Tchoupitoulas by Bryan Wagner on the album by The Wild Tchoupitoulas (1976)
- Diamond Dogs by Glen Hendler on the album by David Bowie (1974)
- Voodoo by Faith A. Pennick on the album by D'Angelo (2000)
- Yoder, Anne K. (April 2, 2006). "Introduction and Interview with Series Editor David Barker". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 2018-05-22.
- Benfer, Amy (August 28, 2014). "33⅓ book series celebrates records – and its 10th anniversary". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 6, 2018.
- Brown, Harley (February 25, 2015). "How the 33 1/3 Series, In Spite of Two Shrinking Industries, Continues to Thrive". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2017-07-26.
- Zaleski, Annie (January 1, 2016). "The lost pop genius of Scott Miller". Salon. Archived from the original on 2016-01-06.
- "New series announcement: 33 1/3 Global". 333Sound. August 9, 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-05-22.
- "33 1/3 Global editor highlight: Noriko Manabe". 333Sound. August 31, 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-05-22.
- "33 1/3 Brazil". Bloomsbury Publishing. Archived from the original on 2018-05-22.
- "33 1/3 Japan". Bloomsbury Publishing. Archived from the original on 2018-05-22.