W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

Before I get cranked up on this month's main subject, I want to discuss a few items of interest. First of all, when I sent a copy of my seminar ad with last month's newsletter, I did so because I wanted to illustrate how a copywriter ought to be able to write an ad to promote his services.

Well, as it turns out, a number of my subscribers were a little miffed at me because they wanted to go to the seminar and I didn't give them enough warning. I'm sorry about that; I guess I just wasn't thinking. However, this month (on the 23rd) I'm giving another seminar and this time it's at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. I'd love to see you there. If you are interested, you can read my new ad (enclosed) which is appearing in the Los Angeles Times.

But, if you want to register, please don't delay. The room only seats 130 and it's going to fill up in a flash.

Next, I want to talk a moment about how you can profit (maybe) from cable TV at no risk whatsoever. I'm doing a lot of cable work now (two shows on the air, two in the can, and one more scheduled for shooting) and I'm looking for new ideas. Many of you, I suspect have direct mail or space promotions that could be easily adapted to TV. If so, I'd like to talk to YOU. Do your marketing efforts have what Sir Gary calls the "Three S's" needed for cable success?"

"S" #1: A Star: someone who is an authority on what you are selling.
"S" #2: A Story: something we can talk about in a TV   interview.
"S" #3: A Solution: This is the most important "S" of all.  Does your product or service solve a problem such as poverty, hemorrhoids, obesity, boredom, hunger or the need to be rich and famous?

Are you marketing something that has all these elements? If so, give me a call because I might be able to line you up with a cable show with NO investment on your part.

That'd be nice, wouldn't it?

Thirdly, do any of you happen to know how someone with a new mail order business can get a merchant account for MasterCard, Visa and American Express? If you do know, I'd really appreciate if you would share that info with me.

Fourthly and finally, I have never, in all my years of of writing, received such an enthusiastic response as I have from those of you who've read the BORON LETTERS.

Thank you very much.

So, now that I've got all that out of the way, let's get cooking. This month's issue is going to be special. Here is why. More than 60 years ago, a man named E. Haldeman-Julius conducted the most fascinating and large-scale market research program I've ever heard about. Are you familiar with Haldeman-Julius? He's the guy who published the world famous Little Blue Books.

What's that? You've never heard of the Little Blue Books? What are you anyway, just a young kid? You say you're wondering what a publishing venture you've never even heard about can teach you about marketing?

Plenty. The story of the Little Blue Books offers up a treasure trove of marketing insights that is pure gold. Here are the details: Once upon a time, way back in the 1920's, the Little Blue Books were born. They were, all in all, a collection of some 2,000 titles. All the books had a blue cover and measured 3-1/2 by 5 inches. Most often they contained 64 pages, although sometimes they went up to 128 pages. The content of the Little Blue Books was wide and varied. They covered everything from Shakespeare to the Debate on Birth Control. Many of them were self-help books of the "How To" genre. They were sold in large ads that appeared in many of the major newspapers and other publications such as Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post. They sold for a nickel (5 cents) and you had to buy at least 20 of them with every order.

Now listen: Do you remember when Playboy magazine first hit the newsstands? Remember the technique of how to buy it? Remember how you'd go to a newsstand and grab copies of Life and Look and maybe the National Geographic and a couple of others and then you'd pick up a Playboy and hide it in the middle of all those others when you went up to the cash register?

You do remember all that? Geez, time sure passes, doesn't it? Well, since a person had to buy 20 Little Blue Books at a time, that meant he could anonymously sandwich in an order for what he really wanted to read or learn about with all that stuff society was telling him he was supposed to be interested in.

To say that the Little Blue Books sold well would be somewhat of an understatement. How many of them were sold? I'm glad you asked because the answer is.....

More Than 100 Million!

And listen to this: After Haldeman-Julius had sold over 100 million of these little books, then he wrote a book titled The First Hundred Million to tell what he had learned from this publishing venture. His statistics are amazing. They reveal exactly what interested the American public in the 1920s and in exactly what relative proportions. And you know what? Those statistics are dead on target today!

What subject was the American public most willing to pay and read about in the 1920's? The same one they're most willing to pay to read about today.


Indeed, The First Hundred Million is a book that contains a precise and valid statistical measurement of America's inner most needs and greeds. So why didn't I mention it in last month's newsletter when I listed the greatest marketing books of all time? Simply because I didn't have a copy of it and I wasn't sure it was obtainable. Those others that are out-of-print are hard to find but, with a little effort, they are at least gettable. So anyway, what happens is a good friend and long-time client of mine, Brian Smith and his trusty helper Amy, found a copy of Haldeman-Julius' book and Xeroxed it for me!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

And now, without further adieu, I am simply going to extract for you some data from this wonderful book. Haldeman-Julius sold 20,700,000 Little Blue Books in 1927. Many of then were about sex. Let's see what we can learn from his annual sales figures for that year. Hmn? A book titled The Art of Kissing sold 60,500 copies, yet one titled The Art Of Courtship sold only 17,500 copies. What Married Women Should Know (a euphemistic titled that Haldeman-Julius really wanted to call Sex Facts For Married Women) sold 112,000 copies while What Married Men Should Know sold 97,500 copies. Women's Sexual Life sold 97,500 copies, Man's Sexual Life sold 54,000 copies. Confidential Chats With Wives sold 52,000 copies, while Confidential Chats With Husbands sold only 29,500 copies.

Hmn? I guess a woman's sexual revelations have much more commercial appeal than a man's, don't they?

Hah! Here's something. It seems that Modern Aspect of Birth Control appealed to 73,000 readers, while Debate on Birth Control appealed only to 27,000.

I guess they didn't want to hear all the arguments, they just wanted to know how to do it.

Ah, but let's go for what they really wanted to read. Check out this figure: Prostitution in the Modern World - 129,500 copies!

As opposed to The Evolution of Marriage which sold only 20,000 copies.

Here's a strange one. Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun sold 46,000 copies, while How to Write Love Letters sold only 23,000 copies.

And Facts About Venereal Disease sold 41,500 copies as opposed to the more specific Facts About Syphilis which sold only 36,000.

O.K. that's enough sex for this month. Let's move on to the area of self-education. Just look at this difference: How to Improve Your Conversation sold 77,000 copies yet The Romance of Words only 10,500. Hmn? Hints in Public Speaking sold 46,500 copies, How to Write Advertising 20,000 copies, How to Write Book Reviews only 8,000 copies. How to Psycho-Analyze Yourself sold 43,000 while another titled How I Psycho-Analyzed Myself only 13,500. More numbers: How to Fight Nervous Troubles 39,000, Facts About Will Power 38,500, Your Memory and How to Improve It 37,000 copies, Your Talent and How to Develop It 35,500, Psychology of Leadership 32,000, How to Think Logically 30,500, Psychology of Character Building 29,000, The Conquest of Fear 27,500 and Psychology of Laughter 14,000.

Here's an illuminating statistic: How to Break Bad Habits sold 29,000 copies as opposed to How to Form Good Habits which sold only 20,000.

And another: Care of Skin and Hair sold 52,000, yet How to Take Care of Your Mouth and Teeth only 8,000.

What foreign languages do Americans want to learn most? Here they are in rank order:

Spanish Self-Taught

French Self-Taught

German Self-Taught

Italian Self-Taught

Esperanto Self-Taught

Latin Self-Taught







What do we like to eat? Or, more precisely, what do we like to cook? How to Make All Kinds of Candy sold 45,000 copies, How to Make Pies and Pastries 29,000, How to Cook Fish and Meats 21,500 and, dead last, was French Cooking for Amateurs at 9,500.

The demand for info on proper manners always astonishes me. Back in 1927, the Little Blue Book titled Hints on Etiquette sold 72,000 copies! Less surprising, at least to me, is that Party Games for Grown-Ups sold 46,500.

What ethnic groups do we like to make fun of? Here in rank order are the stats:

Best Jewish Jokes

Best Negro Jokes

Best Irish Jokes

Best Scotch Jokes

Best American Jokes






and, dead last,

Best Yankee Jokes with sales of 16,000 copies.

   What of the professions? These figures tell a story:

Best Jokes About Doctors

About Preachers

About Lawyers




Listen: I'm not going to give you the figures on poetry and the classics because my space is limited here and I doubt those marketing stats will have much practical value to many of you. The same is true of books of proverbs, fiction, plays, the classics, etc.

What is super instructive, however, is the chapter called THE HOSPITAL which is subtitled How Little Blue Books Are Given New Zest by New Titles!

Consider: When Gautier's Fleece of Gold was changed to The Quest for a Blonde Mistress, sales jumped from 6,000 to 50,000! When the title of Oscar Wilde's Pen, Pencil and Poison was changed to The Story of a Notorious Criminal, sales more than tripled! The book Patent Medicine did poorly. Yet, when changed to The Truth About Patent Medicine, sales more than tripled! Arthur Schopenhauer's Art of Controversy didn't do squat until retitled as How to Argue Logically when, thereupon, it enjoyed sales of 30,000 per year.

You already know what happened when Thomas De Quincey's Essay on Conversation was changed to How to Improve Your Conversation - but do you know why?

Of course you do. And I bet you can also guess where Sir Gary of Halbert, the Ace of Space, Prince of Print, and all round bon vivant got many of his "killer" headline ideas!

Here's a suggestion only the most dedicated (driven) among you will take to heart. Go read a copy of THE FIRST HUNDRED MILLION! You can find it in the Library of Congress and, I think, the Metropolitan Library in Manhattan. It contains much more value than I can extract for you here in these eight pages. Nothing like it has ever been written. It is where I learned my magic words. The ones that make my copy sizzle and my headlines impossible to ignore. Magic words like these:

How To

The Art Of

A Little Secret That

The Truth About

The Facts About

The History Of

The Story Of

The Key To

and many, many more.

I love this book! It contains actual costs and result figures from the N.Y. Times Book Review, N.Y. Daily News, Life, Chicago Tribune, The Saturday Review and others with dates run, size of ads and everything.

Wouldn't it be fun to get the 9/26/23 issue of Life and see Haldeman-Julius' full page ad which cost $650 and pulled in $1215.23? Hot damn! I think I know where I can get it!

I'm gone.

   Gary C. Halbert
AKA "He who once again
forgot to submit material 
for the Golden Mailbox         Awards"


P.S. I would be more than happy to give a full lifetime subscription to the Gary Halbert Letter to anyone who can get for me (or even tell me where to buy) my very own copy of THE FIRST HUNDRED MILLION!

I'm always interested in numbers from headline tests, price test, etc. If you have any test results you'd be willing to share with my other subscribers, please give me a call. Thanks.


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Copyright 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.