Hardy Boys vs. Ted Scott
Which Sold Best?

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series have been so successful since their inception that there is a common misconception that the books were instantaneously successful from their inauguration in 1927 and 1930, respectively.

Now that some of the business records for the Stratemeyer Syndicate are receiving close attention from scholars, some interesting facts are coming to light which have answered previously posed questions and raised new ones.

In this case, the sales of the Hardy Boys are compared with the other "Franklin W. Dixon" series, Ted Scott.  The latter series was an aviation series modeled after Charles Lindbergh and other aviation pioneers of the period.  The first volume was Over the Ocean to Paris and was published a month or two after Lindbergh's flight.  The intense public interest in Lindbergh's Transatlantic flight has been documented elsewhere but it is interesting to note that the total sales of Ted Scott were at times three times as high as that of the Hardy Boys and the average per volume was about twice as high until the Great Depression affected book sales.

A word or two about this data is appropriate. The sales data from 1925 to 1929 was obtained from a document associated with Edward Stratemeyer's estate settlement. At the time, his daughters were seeking someone to purchase the company before they began to run the firm themselves in the fall of 1930. These sales figures were a prospectus for a potential purchaser.

The later sales data was tediously extracted from royalty records at NYPL by Frank Krieger. This is especially tiresome work as it involves going through many pages of documents to come up with the simple figures shown here. In many ways it is a thankless task for most people will look at the data, say "hmmmpf" to themselves, and then move on. I would like to acknowledge Frank's help on supplying the data for this page.

James D. Keeline

Average Sales Per Volume
  1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936
Hardy Boys 9,416 9,806 9,961 9,697 8,593 7,479 4,007 5,663 5,228  
Ted Scott 17,791 21,788 20,575 14,418 8,702 4,544 2,438 3,072 2,457 1,923

Total Sales Per Year
  1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936
Hardy Boys 28,247 58,836 79,690 87,274 85,388 74,794 40,072 56,626 47,051  
Ted Scott 71,163 152,513 205,748 187,435 121,821 72,710 39,005 52,227 44,122 34,622