Stratemeyer Syndicate

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The Stratemeyer Syndicate was the producer of a number of mystery series for children, including Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the various Tom Swift series, the Bobbsey Twins, the Rover Boys, and others.

Contents

History

Created by Edward Stratemeyer, the Stratemeyer Syndicate was the first book packager to have its books aimed at children, rather than adults. The Syndicate was wildly successful; at one time it was believed that the overwhelming majority of the books children read in the USA were Stratemeyer Syndicate books, based on a 1922 study of over 36,000 children country-wide.[1]

Stratemeyer's business acumen was in realizing that there was a huge, untapped market for children's books. At a time when most children's books were aimed at moral instruction, the Stratemeyer Syndicate specialized in producing books that were meant primarily to be entertaining. In Stratemeyer's view, it was not the promise of sex or violence that made such reading attractive to children; it was the thrill of feeling grown-up and the desire for a series of stories. This desire for a series of stories could, Stratemeyer believed, be harnessed for profit. In founding the Stratemeyer Syndicate, Edward Stratemeyer aimed to produce books in an efficient, assembly-line fashion and to write them in such a way as to maximize their popularity.

The first series that Stratemeyer created was the Rover Boys, published under the pseudonym Arthur M. Winfield. The Rover Boys books were a roaring success - a total of 30 volumes was published between 1899 and 1926, selling over five million copies.[2] Stratemeyer began writing other series books: The Bobbsey Twins first appeared in 1904, under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope, and Tom Swift in 1910, under the pseudonym Victor Appleton.[3]

Stratemeyer also published a number of books under his own name; however, the books published under pseudonyms sold better. Stratemeyer realized that "he could offer more books each year if he dealt with several publishers and had the books published under a number of pseudonyms which he controlled."[4] Stratemeyer explained his strategy to a publisher, writing that "'[a] book brought out under another name would, I feel satisfied, do better than another Stratemeyer book. If this was brought out under my own name, the trade on new Stratemeyer books would simply be cut into four parts instead of three.'"[5]

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