Sunday, August 14, 2011
Gold Medal sales figures. Can these be right?
Ed here: I was researching a piece and stumbled on this post by Edie Dykeman on Bellaonline. BTW House of Flesh is a truly disturbing novel, a little gem--gothic noir.)
"The noir genre exploded when Fawcett Publications created Gold Medal Books toward the end of 1949. The new line began publishing original stories that tackled the darker cynical side of the genre; and they were not inhibited as to sexual content. Gold Medal soon began publishing eight original paperbacks a month. Although the line started out slowly, in 1951 Richard Carroll, who had worked as a story editor in Hollywood, became editor, and the line quickly established itself as a leader in the field.
"Other popular paperback publishers that followed Gold Medals lead during the 1950’s were Dell, Lion, Ace, and Popular Library, among others. The decade became known for its paperback originals. Gold Medal discovered a number of authors during that time including Charles Williams, Bruno Fischer, and Gil Brewer. Lion Books was instrumental in publishing many of the early works of Jim Thompson.
"House of Flesh (1950) by Fischer sold over 18 million copies, Hill Girl by Williams sold almost 13 million, and 13 French Street (1951) by Brewer sold over 12 million. Although millions of paperbacks were sold during the decade, by the end of the 1950’s the advent of television brought a slowing of sales of paperbacks into the 1960’s."
for the rest go here:http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art33841.asp
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I used to wish I'd been around to write for the pulps. But I really wish I'd been arond to write for GM.
You are right to be skeptical of those numbers. Eighteen million in a nation of 140 million?
This is a very odd article by Ms. Dykeman. How can you talk about Gold Medal without mentioning Signet and the earlier runaway success of Mickey Spillane's fiction? For that matter, how can you talk about "noir" without mentioning that it never identified as such until the French publisher gallimard began the Serie Noir line of reprints?
Those numbers are severely overinflated. Gold Medal had a number of million-copy bestsellers in the early 50s, HOUSE OF FLESH, HILL GIRL, and 13 FRENCH STREET among them, but 2-3 mil was the max any of them sold. Sales figures on the Brewer were around the 1.5 mil mark; I know this for a fact because I have his agent's file card on this and Brewer's other GM titles (none of which reached the million mark in sales).
Thanks, Bill. Ed
Shortly before he passed away, I spoke at length with Stephen Marlowe, creator of Chet Drum...he said Double In Trouble, the crossover novel he wrote with Dick Prather, sold 7 million in its first printing...that was considered a bit above average.
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