Gatsby in 1925…Gatsby in 2014?

GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” was released on this date (April 10) in 1925.  It was a critical success, but not a big seller.  The second printing left thousands of unsold copies in the warehouse.  How this must have discouraged Fitzgerald, who was likely hoping for a commercial success to help with his mounting debt. Why wasn’t it popular in its own time, and what about this novel has earned it a place in American literature and on every High School’s mandatory reading list? I’m sure volumes have been written on the answers to these questions, but now I wonder about a new one.  How would Fitzgerald fare in today’s publishing environment?  If Gatsby failed to sell, would he have been dropped by his publisher as a commercial flop?  Would he have turned to self-pub in order to find an audience? How many undiscovered Fitzgeralds are there out there now with a story that is not considered “commercially viable”?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Gatsby in 1925…Gatsby in 2014?

  1. Hard to believe Gatsby was a commercial flop, isn’t it? But there’s still such a gap between critical and commercial success, partly I think because the market is so flooded it’s actually hard for readers to find the good books amongst the hundreds of thousands of mediocre/bad ones, and they’re all described in the same glowing terms by the publishers/fellow authors. It must be very depressing for good authors – I guess they’d all rather be successful while they’re still alive given a choice!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Fiction Fan. Yes, it is good on one hand that the self-pub movement has removed the gatekeepers and readers have more access to a greater variety of books, ideas, stories, but on the other hand, the first line of defense against the truly awful works is eroded. There are so many out there, all with amazing book jacket blurbs, it is hard to tell. That’s why readers NEED us! The book reviewers. 🙂

  3. Chris Sullivan

    Hear Hear regarding your “That’s why readers NEED us! The book reviewers. ” The number of books released each year is overwhelming and trying to remove the wheat from the chaff is very difficult. The new novel ‘The Quick’ is a case in point. It’s blurb has quotes from the likes of Hilary Mantel and Kate Atkinson but the book turned out to be pretty awful. I have to assume that Hilary and Kate and Lauren Owen the author of ‘The Quick’ share a publisher, agent or owed someone a favour.

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