In the pulp days, one could find the latest Nightstand, Bedstand, Midwood, Pocket, Gold Medal, Saber, etc., at the thousands of newstsands in every major city across the country; these stands sold newspapers, magazines and books (the Nightstands were always classified as magazines, not novels).
The newsstand is now a rarity, and they seldom carry paperback books ecept for racks with popular mass market titles. Not so in Mexico. While in Tijuana, we noticed newsstands on every corner, carrying a variety of newspapers and pornographic comics and little magazines, as well stacks of western novels by one Marcial Lafueente Estefania. Hundreds of them.
Estefania, 1903-1984, was the son of journalist and writer Federico Lafuente , author of The Ballad of Don Quixote (1916). . The Spanish Civil War was the foundation of his writing: during his incarceration by the government, he claims to have written his first novel on toilet paper with a stylus. His two sons helped him write his books toward the end of his life, and he did one serious novel that flopped.
He’s the Louis L’Amour of Spanish western novels,m pumping out one a week, hundreds if not thousands of these short genre novels — they all tend to be in the 90-100 page range. What we found interesting is how most of them are printed: with thin glossy covers much like the paper once used by Fabian/Saber/Vega Books.
How are they? We don’t read Spanish so we don’t know, but a quick glance, they look like they have breezy, fast-paced prose.
Many of the copies we saw in Tijuana looked water damaged and used, and were priced lower than the ones that looked new. Seems they practice was (still is?) that one could return these books for a low price and get another; this way, they never knew how many people read these books, but they were and still are quite popular, the way Louis L’Amour still is now.