|Dave Van Arnam's Lord of Blood and a Doc Savage adventure|
Wikipedia describes pulp fiction as a combination of cheap paper, cheap printing and cheap authors to produce affordable entertainment. I can't argue with the first two; smaller paperbacks are called "mass market" for a reason. But the phrase "cheap authors" begs the question: which fiction authors aren't cheap?
Besides a few writers at the very top, like Meyer, King and Patterson, most authors can't make a full-time living. The bio in the back may picture your favorite author curled up cozily with a cat/dog/husband/wife/passel of children/computer, but that's rarely the case. An article on Fiction Factor rough guesses that a writer might make $50,000 from a hardcover or $7,000 from a paperback. Given that most fiction authors never see the inside of a hardback, it would take four books a year to raise a family of four above the national poverty line. (Ilona Andrews, author of Fate's Edge and the Kate Daniels series, writes an instructive blog about the subject.)
Read (Think) will sell a variety of books, hard and soft, fiction and non, vintage and like new, but in today's post I want to celebrate pulp fiction and its progeny, the mass market paperback.
May they entertain us--cheaply--for a long time to come.