And we do mean Reading Room, today...
|Art by Gene Fawcette|
In the dark days before comic shops, comic books were sold at newsstands, drugstores, lunchenette/soda fountains, etc. on racks along with magazines and newspapers.
To qualify as magazines/periodicals and receive special 2nd class (periodical) mailing discounts, comics had to include at least one text page per issue.
From the mid-1950s on, the quota was filled with a letters page.
But before that, the text page was often a short story.
In some cases, the story was based on the cover art, like this one from Avon's 1950 one-shot Out of This World...
The cover is by Gene Fawcette.
The story is by "W Malcolm White", a pen-name for Donald A Wollheim, a noted genre author who was the sci-fi/fantasy editor for Avon Magazines at this time.
Shortly after this, he moved to Ace Books, where he conceived the Ace Doubles paperback series and spearheaded the returns of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howard to the pop culture spotlight.
He also introduced JRR Tolkien to American audiences with an unauthorized (but legal) reprinting of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Later, Wollheim and his wife would found DAW Books, the first mass-market genre publisher!
(Today it's an imprint of Penguin Books.)