Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quicklook: 1940s SF Sales Figures

Sales figures. Campbell vs. Pulp in the 1940s. To be fair, though, Astounding was selling about as well as Weird Tales in its prime. But to see Amazing sell nearly as well as Doc Savage and the Shadow in their prime at a time where pulp was "dying" is, well, amazing.
"But Shaverism, whatever and by whoever, was only one of Palmer’s inventions. Brought in by Ziff-Davis in the early l940s as a wild-eyed fan who Ziff-Davis thought (after the death of T. O’Connor Sloane at something like the age of 167) could find a formula which would appeal to all the other wild-eyed fans who Palmer in voluminous correspondence to Amazing had claimed to represent, Palmer published a magazine filled with—there is no other way to put this—dreadful fiction by dreadful writers (with a few good writers encouraged to write dreadful fiction; good writers can certainly do this). 
"The magazine had no credibility with the serious readers of Astounding or the Futurians or even the Fans-Are-Slans movement—but it had credibility or at least amusement value with others because Amazing under Palmer had remarkable sales figures, by far the highest sales figures ever generated by a science fiction magazine. In an era where Astounding was selling 50,000 copies an issue, the mid-to-late-forties Amazing was selling 200,000. These figures were never equaled. They were extraordinary."
(Emphasis is mine.)

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