Happy New Year, everyone.
I have a question for you readers. Most of you who collect pulps or are interested in the history of them know that LOVE STORY MAGAZINE was at one point had the highest circulation of any pulp magazine. Its peak was hit in 1929, when it hit 600,000 copies a week, which comes to thirty million a year.
What I am struggling with and I'm hoping that you experts out there can help me - is this the number that was printed? Or sold? And what is also confusing to me is something that Thomas Uzzell discussed in his article "The Love Pulps" (Scribner's, April 1938) about how public the circulation numbers were.
"The exact circulation of these magazines cannot be learned because of the grouping of the circulations for advertising purposes. This bulking of circulation, moreover, enables the publisher of a sudden success to keep it dark- until he has a jump in the field. So tight has been this censorship at times that even the editors of the magazines don't know their own sales figures. Daisy Bacon, editor of LOVE STORY, at one time regularly learned her weekly circulation at a cocktail party attended by the representative of the distributing company. Another editor learns her circulation by figuring one thousand to every seven letters from readers. Roy Barnhill, manager of a New York agency for pulp advertising space, reports that even he cannot learn the circulations of the separate magazines. 'The only way to get the figures for a magazine is to get a job on it and be put in charge of deliveries.'"
First of all, I'm wondering how in detail this "grouping of circulation" worked and how it kept actual numbers in the dark. I know they sold advertising space by bulk, did this have something to do with it? Any why would someone like Street & Smith want to keep those numbers so secret? Is it my imagination or is this process full of holes? And if it was such a secret, where and when did the figure of 600,000 come from? It's all as clear as mud to me.
(By the way, I do have some scribblings from Daisy, on the back of an envelope, believe it or not, that list LOVE STORY'S circulation.600,000 is the # for 1930.
Any help would be appreciated.
I hope that all of you have a safe, healthy, and happy new year.