Saturday, January 25, 2014

Newsstand photos from rare American News Company publication

I recently acquired a copy of SERVING THE READING PUBLIC, which is the 80th anniversary commemoration book published by the American News Company, in 1944. The American News Company was the biggest distributor of periodicals in the country and dominated the distribution of magazines, including pulps, for decades. At the time of the publication of this book, there were 400 branches and distribution points in the U.S., and they served 90,000 retailers.


The American News Company collapsed suddenly and ceased business in 1957, which resulted in many magazines and newspapers without a distributor and having to close down themselves. According to its entry on Wikipedia, the demise of American News Company was "catastrophic" and the reasons for the collapse has been speculated over for decades.

Unfortunately the book is light on copy, and like most of these types of books is self-congratulatory in nature. The narrative is very high level and does not discuss the pulps specifically. It has the look of a yearbook (photos of directors and all the managers are sprinkled throughout) but it does have some nice photos of some of their newsstands. I had to scan these, so sorry if the quality isn't as clear as we'd like. But they're nice to look at.

I know a lot of you know a great deal more about American News; feel free to share what you like in the comments.

And a special hat tip to John Locke of Off-Trail Publications who mentioned this book to me a few weeks ago.





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7 comments:

Walker Martin said...

Over the years I've read discussions about the demise of the American News Company. It has been stated that a stockholder got control and realized that a big profit could be made by selling off the assets and property of the company. Which he did which resulted in the laying off of thousands of employees and the death of the company.

I bet he didn't care about the distribution problems that resulted for all sorts of magazines. I started to buy the crime and SF fiction digests in February 1956. I'm not kidding when I say that the distribution was impressive for these magazines back then. Every drugstore, grocery store, Mom & Pop store carried the magazines.

Now the distribution is a disaster and has been for a long time. The only place in my area that carries the remaining 5 fiction digests is the local Barnes & Noble.

Barry Traylor said...

Wow! What a find. I love photos of vintage newsstands. If I may make a suggestion try using a digital camera and see what your results are. And you really should email copies of the photos to Newsstand 1925 as he is always on the lookout for pictures like this. We have a link on the PulpFest website in the Links section. Just look for Pulp Sites.

Laurie Powers said...

Thanks for the tip Barry. I always thought I'd get better results from a scanner, but I'll try the camera route. I will also send copies to Newsstand 1925 later today.

darwination said...

Great pictures! What a neat little publication. There's no doubt that when ANC went down the entire industry of comics and magazine took an enormous hit.

I agree it would be nice to be able to see these newsstands closer. If you scan a page at 300 or 400 dpi, you can upload the original width image to a host like imgur and get an image that the reader can click and scroll about on like this:

http://i.imgur.com/z1tGukF.jpg

There is probably a better way to do it, but on my blog I'll put up an image at whatever pixel width I'd like the reader to view it at initially and then a link below to a scrollable image like the one above.

Thank you for sharing!

-Beau

Laurie Powers said...

Thank you for the info Beau. I will certainly try to look into doing this this week. It may be a few days...with my work schedule and researching/writing the Daisy Bacon book, finding the time can be a challenge. I'm very happy that so many people are looking at them and I will do my best to get better copies out there.

Barry Traylor said...

Walker Martin said:

Over the years I've read discussions about the demise of the American News Company. It has been stated that a stockholder got control and realized that a big profit could be made by selling off the assets and property of the company. Which he did which resulted in the laying off of thousands of employees and the death of the company.

That sounds so 21st century. We have heard of these sort of corporate raiders that I was not aware it was done in the 1950's.

Barry Traylor said...

By the way Laurie I have been meaning to mention the new capchas on your blog, it is actually possible for me to read the darn things.