The Babe applies for Shares
People said of the new journal, Good Humourpeople of taste and judgment, that it was the brightest, the cleverest, the most literary penny weekly that ever had been offered to the public. This made Peter Hope, editor and part-proprietor, very happy. William Clodd, business manager, and also part-proprietor, it left less elated.
Must be careful, said William Clodd, that we dont make it too clever. Happy medium, thats the ideal.
People saidpeople of taste and judgment, that Good Humour was more worthy of support than all the other penny weeklies put together. People of taste and judgment even went so far, some of them, as to buy it. Peter Hope, looking forward, saw fame and fortune coming to him.
William Clodd, looking round about him, said
Doesnt it occur to you, Guvnor, that were getting this thing just a trifle too high class?
What makes you think that? demanded Peter Hope.
Our circulation, for one thing, explained Clodd. The returns for last month
Id rather you didnt mention them, if you dont mind, interrupted Peter Hope; somehow, hearing the actual figures always depresses me.
Cant say I feel inspired by them myself, admitted Clodd.
It will come, said Peter Hope, it will come in time. We must educate the public up to our level.
If there is one thing, so far as I have noticed, said William Clodd, that the public are inclined to pay less for than another, it is for being educated.
What are we to do? asked Peter Hope.
What you want, answered William Clodd, is an office-boy.
How will our having an office-boy increase our circulation? demanded Peter Hope. Besides, it was agreed that we could do without one for the first year. Why suggest more expense?
I dont mean an ordinary office-boy, explained Clodd. I mean the sort of boy that I rode with in the train going down to Stratford yesterday.
What was there remarkable about him?
Nothing. He was reading the current number of the Penny Novelist. Over two hundred thousand people buy it. He is one of them. He told me so. When he had done with it, he drew from his pocket a copy of the Halfpenny Jokerthey guarantee a circulation of seventy thousand. He sat and chuckled over it until we got to Bow.
You wait a minute. Im coming to the explanation. That boy represents the reading public. I talked to him. The papers he likes best are the papers that have the largest sales. He never made a single mistake. The othersthose of them he had seenhe dismissed as rot. What he likes is what the great mass of the journal-buying public likes. Please himI took his name and address, and he is willing to come to us for eight shillings a weekand you please the people that buy. Not the people that glance through
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