For the ten years of its existence, The American Review was the major vehicle for presenting excellence in writing to the American reading public. In its pages, established writers of the caliber of E.L. Doctorow, Ralph Ellison, William Gass, and Norman Mailer, as well as new writers like L. Woiwode and Max Apple had a forum for their short stories, novels in progress, poetry, essays, and criticism. The American Review was unique among other quality literary magazines in that it was packaged in an attractive paperback format and fully intended to reach a mass audience.
Originally called the New American Review, the journal was the product of its founder and literary editor, Theodore Solotaroff. The first issue appeared in 1967 and was a resounding commercial and critical success. Published by the New American Library, the issue sold somewhere around 100,000 copies. writers in that first issue included William Gass, Victor Kolpacoff, Philip Roth, and Anne Sexton. Editor Solotaroff planned for the NAR to be published three times a year. Though he hoped by offering a high level of writing excellence to sustain The American Review as a commercial venture, Solotaroff was well aware that the magazine would need an aggressive subscription program which would attract English and creative writing teachers, and other discerning readers.
The quality of issues over the next few years was consistently high, but sales began to slip. The journal never developed a large subscription list, and its staff by necessity had to distribute each new issue on an individual basis to bookstores and jobbers. In 1970 its publisher, New American Library, dropped financial backing of the journal after three years and ten issues. Simon and Schuster took over publication of the next five issues (1971 - 72). Then in 1973, the magazine was taken over by Bantam Books, where its name was changed to American Review . Bantam published the next eleven issues (1973 - 1977) at which point it was decided for financial reasons to cease publication. Sales had by then dropped to 50,000, and it was no longer economically feasible to continue.
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