Saturday, 8 August 2015

Adventure's failed experiment in 1927

Earlier on this blog, we've talked about the change in Adventure magazine that took place in 1927 when new owners took over the magazine - the magazine changed from this look:

to this:

The contents of the magazine also changed, a books column was added, there was discussion and reviews of the best outdoor equipment etc. The fiction was kept intact, though.

We've discussed earlier whether this was the cause for Arthur Hoffman's departure from the magazine. Walker Martin (see the comments in the link above) feels that Hoffman was supportive of the move, but left because it failed to improve the business. I felt the new ownership was taking it in a direction that Hoffman didn't want, and that was part of the reason that Hoffman left.

Here's something that I found recently that might help - correspondence between Joseph Cox, the editor who succeeded Hoffman and Horace Kephart, an outdoors expert. Cox wanted Kephart to become a part of the Ask Adventure group of experts who answered readers' queries.

While doing so, he mentions that the new ownership wanted to make Adventure into the "trade journal of all the outdoors". That would probably have meant less fiction and more non-fiction. That change in direction, combined with the drop in readership, was (in my opinion), the reason for Hoffman's departure.

As we know, the magazine's circulation didn't improve and Adventure was back in pulp format in 1927. Joseph Cox left as editor in 1928 and the magazine went downhill until Harold Bloomfield took over as editor in 1934.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this latest information concerning the great "failed experiment" that ADVENTURE was involved in when it tried to become a quality adventure magazine with Rockwell Kent art and the use of book paper instead of pulp, etc.

    It's true that Cox mentions making ADVENTURE "the trade journal of all the outdoors." But this was nothing new and the magazine had this reputation for truth and facts and the Ask Adventure Department was a very popular feature for many years. Hoffman was always talking about the Camp Stations and stressing non-fiction discussions in the Campfire letter column.

    Many times during the twenties Hoffman complained about the prejudice that profession men showed towards ADVENTURE. Because of the garish covers and pulp paper, they mistakenly thought that the magazine was just another pulp full of childish and simple stories. But the simple fact is that the magazine actually has claim to being one of the best fiction titles ever printed. The quality was very high but many potential readers were put off by the covers and pulp paper.

    Because of these comments by Hoffman in the letter column, it looks like he was at first supportive of the so called improvements. However when they didn't work out and the circulation did not increase, then the publishers made the decision to pull the plug and go back to the old pulp format and design.

    Let's face it, Rockwell Kent did not come cheap and the book paper was more costly than the standard pulp paper. At this point Hoffman must of received the offer of becoming a slick editor and he grabbed it. The slicks paid several times the pulp rates and I'm sure this was reflected in the salary of the editors.

    You know, we may both be right. At first Hoffman was supportive of the move and when it failed, the publishers started to put pressure on him and they had to return to the pulp format.