Gryphon: Several other companies Fantasy Roleplaying games are doing very well in sales -- Chivalry and Sorcery, for example.The mind simply boggles at these numbers. 12,000 a month just for the D&D Basic Set, which, in 1980, would mean the Holmes-edited one. And FGU's Chivalry & Sorcery was selling 1000 copies a month? If true, that's simply amazing and further evidence that we're not likely to ever see the hobby achieve a comparable amount of mass market success.
Gygax: Where do you think "very well" is?
Gryphon: Probably nowhere near Dungeons and Dragons.
Gygax: 1000 copies a month is what I heard.
Gryphon: For Chivalry and Sorcery?
Gryphon: What's Dungeons and Dragons a month?
Gygax: 12,000 a month. That's the basic set.
Gryphon: So the various manuals and the original stuff would add on above that.
Gygax: Oh, sure, sure.
I doubt most RPGs sell 12,000 copies over their entire lifetimes, let alone over a single month (or a single year, as in the case of C&S). I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, I'm generally of the opinion that the mainstream success of D&D was bad for the game, or at least the version of the game I most enjoy, so I don't pine for a return to those days. Barring some unforeseen shift in popular culture, a return is pretty much impossible anyway. Still, it's fascinating to be reminded of just how much of a fad roleplaying was back in the late 70s and early 80s.