By Hugo Gernsback
Beginning with this issue you will note a difference in paper. We have gone to a great expense to adopt this excellent paper, which is much smoother and prints very much better than our former art paper, which some correspondents felt inclined to call “wrapping paper.” Of course the magazine does not bulk as much now, and we have made the change only because so many people wrote us saying that they did not like the paper. A vote-taking among some 200 people brought out this surprising result–over 190 were in favor of the new paper. Of course this new paper costs us a lot more, but we want, first of all to please you.
The above is the style in which this sort of thing is usually dished-up by an up-to-date editor, but the plain and unvarnished truth is the new paper costs less money than the old. You probably would not believe this, and class it as an amazing story. Nevertheless, it does cost us less. When we originally brought out AMAZING STORIES, we thought it necessary to hand you a big package for the money. Hence the bulky paper, which was made specially for our requirements. Such a paper had never been made before. Now it is known as AMAZING STORIES Bulky Weave. We are sorry to discontinue it, because we personally liked it. But we know you will like the new paper, and that, after all, is what counts.
As a correspondent remarked to us, the editor of AMAZING STORIES does not lie on a bed of roses. Quite the contrary. The bed is full of thorns, and if there are roses present, I do not give a scent for them.
It is the most difficult paper that it has been my good luck to edit. The strange fact is that there are no two readers who like the same thing. It is astonishing that the voting coupons show that almost exactly 50 per cent of the readers heartily dislike one story, whereas the other 50 per cent laud the same story to the skies. Stories like” Station X,” “The Second Deluge,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “The Red Dust,” all were in this class. A great many readers wrote very complimentary remarks on these stories and voted their preference for them, and almost exactly the same number of readers denounced the same stories.
If you, dear reader, were the editor, what would your reaction be to such a condition. Would you hesitate about the next story before publishing it, or would you simply throw yourself to the fishes and simultaneously throw up the sponge?
I do neither. I simply keep right on smiling, because I seem to have an idea in the back of my head which during more lucid moments probably runs somewhat as follows:
Here we have AMAZING STORIES, a totally new sort of magazine, different from any that has ever been published anywhere so far. It is, in other words, a pioneer job. No one ever having published such a magazine, there is no precedent. Having made scientifiction a hobby since I was 8 years old, I probably know as much about it as any one, and in the long run experience will teach just what type of story is acclaimed by the vast majority. Give the readers the very best type of stories that you can get hold of. Try out th ebest classics first, and get the readers’ reactions. When the magazine has been published for a year, you will have a pretty good idea what sort of story makes the greatest appeal.
“In the meanwhile, you are sailing uncharted seas, and as such you are apt to strike rocks once in a while, but if the navigating is done skillfully, the magazine must keep afloat.”
The above is very likely what is happening, evidently we are not making a mess of it, because we are printing 150,000 copies at the present time, and the sales seem to be climbing month after month. It is a healthy sign, and shows that there is room for the scientifiction type of magazine.
May we ask you, particularly this month, to fill in the voting coupon? You will notice it has been changed somewhat. Several questions as to the illustrations have been included and we should like to have your reactions in connection with these questions. The majority, as usual, will win.
The $500 Prize Contest announced in our December issue closed just as we were going to press. It has been a most astonishing success, and far surpassed our greatest expectations. Both the quality and quantity were most gratifying. We received no less than 360 manuscripts from all parts of the world. Of course, it was impossible, as yet, to read all of them. The majority, however, have been quite good and an astonishing amount of ingenuity was shown. We shall begin publishing some of the prize winners in an early issue.
While the growth of AMAZING STORIES has so far progressed at a fairly satisfactory rate, we are far from satisfied. More readers are what we want. As you noticced, we recently put on an advertising section and added the “Discussions” Department. This, by the way, has been widely acclaimed and is eagerly read by most of our readers. Now, if each one of our readers would call the attention of a friend in AMAZING STORIES, we should soon be in a position to add 50 per cent more text to the magazine. It is our aim to get out a book with at least 150 pages, during the coming year. If you want it-boost AMAZING STORIES.