Reader's Digest

Reader's Digest

"Reader's Digest" is a monthly general-interest family magazine co-founded in 1922 by Lila Bell Wallace and DeWitt Wallace. Although its circulation has declined in recent years, the Audit Bureau of Circulation says "Reader's Digest" is still the best-selling consumer magazine in the USA, with a circulation of over 10 million copies in the United States, and a readership of 38 million as measured by Mediamark Research (MRI). According to MRI, "Reader's Digest" reaches more readers with household incomes of $100,000+ than "Fortune", "The Wall Street Journal", "Business Week" and "Inc." combined.Fact|date=August 2008 Global editions of "Reader's Digest" reach an additional 40 million people in more than 70 countries, with 50 editions in 21 languages. It is also published in braille, digital, audio, and a version in large type called "Reader's Digest Large Print".

"Reader's Digest" is owned and published by The Reader's Digest Association, a privately-held company based in Chappaqua, New York. [The mailing address is actually Pleasantville, New York.]

The magazine is compact, with its pages roughly half the size of most American magazines. Hence, in the summer of 2005, the U.S. edition adopted the slogan, "America in your pocket." In January 2008, it was changed to "Life well shared."

The first "Word Power" was published in the January 1945 edition. [pages 29 and 103] The author's name, Wilfred Funk, was disclosed in the February 1945 issue. [Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., vocabulary columnist]

International editions

Although "Reader's Digest" was founded in the U.S., its international editions have made it the best-selling monthly magazine in the world. The magazine's worldwide circulation including all editions has reached 21 million copies and over 100 million readers.

The first international edition was published in the United Kingdom in 1938 and was sold at 2 shillings. "Reader's Digest" is currently published in 52 editions and 35 languages and is available in over 100 countries. In 2006, "Reader's Digest" continued to expand, marketing three more new editions in Slovenia, Croatia and Romania. As of October 2007, "Reader's Digest" expanded in Serbia. The magazine stopped publishing in Italy in December 2007.

Its 49 international editions, which account for about 50% of its trade volume, are controlled from the American headquarters. Except for two or three articles in each local issue, they are entirely composed of articles taken from the US and other editions, creating a mix of articles from many regions of the world. The local editorial staff comprise an office of people who select from the US and other editions and commission local content pieces, subject — in rare cases — to the approval of the American headquarters. The selected articles are then translated by local translators and the translations edited by the local editors to make them match the "well-educated informal" style of the American edition.

Arabic editions

The first "Reader's Digest" publication in the Arab World was printed in Egypt during Gamal Nasser's (1950s) regime. The license was eventually terminated. The second effort and the first "Reader's Digest" franchise agreement was negotiated through the efforts of Frederick Pittera,in 1976, an American entrepreneur , who sold the idea to Lebanon's former Foreign Minister, Dr. Lucien Dahdah, then son-in-law of Suleiman Franjeh, President of Lebanon. Dr. Dahdah partnered with Ghassan Al Tueni, (former Lebanon Ambassador to the United Nations,and publisher of Al Nahar newspaper, Beirut), in publishing "Reader's Digest" in the Arabic language. It was printed in Cairo for distribution throughout the Arab world under title "Al- Mukhtar". In format, "Al-Mukhtar" was the same as the U.S. edition with only 75% of the editorial content. Dr. Philip Hitti,Chairman of Princeton University's Department of Oriental Languages and a team of Arabic advisors counseled on what would be of interest to Arabic readers. The publication of "Al-Mukhtar" was terminated by "Reader's Digest" in the late 1980s.

Canadian edition

The Canadian edition first appeared in February 1948, and today the vast majority of it is Canadian content. All major articles in the August 2005 edition and most of the minor articles were selected from locally-produced articles that matched the "Digest" style. There is usually at least one major American article in most issues.

"Life's Like That" is the Canadian name of "Life in These United States". All other titles are taken from the American publication. Recent "That's Outrageous" articles have been using editorials from the "Calgary Sun".

Indian Edition

The Indian edition was first published in 1954. Its circulation then was 40,000 copies. Today, the magazine is published in India by Living Media India Ltd., and sells over 600 thousand copies - a Fifteen fold increase. It not only includes local Indian articles but international articles as well. It is one of the most popular English Language consumer magazines in India.Fact|date=August 2008

Localization procedures

Efforts are made to give the international editions a local look to make sure the "Digest" is never seen to be a threat to the local cultural identity, as imported American cultural products often are. Previously, all editions featured the table of contents on the front cover, but this practice ceased a few years ago. While the American edition also lists the authors of the articles or the (American) publications they have been taken from, the international editions list only titles, although some editions followed the US format in the past. Advertisement placement in the local editions are entirely managed by the local staff and reflect local products.

Many American articles are integrated within the local context. For instance, in an article on air travel, John F. Kennedy Airport will be replaced by a local airport and references to American airlines with information on local companies. Local statistics may be added, currencies and measures will be adapted. Local names, quotes or pictures of local sights will sometimes replace the original ones. All those operations are called "adaptation" by the Digest editors: they are performed by the local editors and writers according to general central rules but without specific US control.

Another, similar intervention is to complement the numerous sections featuring short anecdotes (such as Quotable Quotes, Points to Ponder, Humor in Uniform, etc) with local anecdotes.

Local editions also avoid reprinting articles which may touch on sensitive spots in the receiving culture. In general, the local editions will also avoid selecting texts which are too closely linked to very specific American (or too foreign) situations. The few articles written by local authors always deal with local topics.


"Reader's Digest" has published bi-monthly a series of softcover anthology books, called "Reader's Digest Select Editions". [Previously known as "Reader's Digest Condensed Books"] such as "". During the 1970s, there was also a Reader's Digest Press which published full-length, original works of non-fiction.


In 1952 the magazine published "Cancer by the Carton", a series of articles that linked smoking with lung cancer. [ [ CNN Interactive] ] This was the first serious examination of the health effects of smoking. The most immediate effect was to prompt the tobacco industry to market filter cigarettes.

Direct marketing

"Reader's Digest" offers many mail-order products included with "sweepstakes" or contests implying that one would have a greater chance of winning if they bought from the company. In 2001 32 states reached an agreement with the company to settle allegations that the company tricked the elderly into buying products because they were a "guaranteed winner" of a lottery. The settlement requires the company to:

# Establish a "Do Not Contact List" and refrain from soliciting any future "high-activity" customers unless and until "Reader's Digest" actually makes contact with that customer and determines that the customer is not buying because he or she thinks that the purchase will improve his or her chances of winning.
# Send letters to individuals who spend more than $1,000 in a six-month period telling them that they are not required to make purchases to win the sweepstakes, that making a purchase will not improve their chances of winning and that, in fact, all entries have the same chance to win whether or not the entry is accompanied by a purchase. [ [ Reader's Digest Enters Into Multi-state Sweepstakes Agreement Agrees to Pay $6 Million in Consumer Restitution ] ] [ [ News & Alerts - California Dept. of Justice - Office of the Attorney General ] ] [ [ Reader's Digest Agrees to Sweeps Restrictions ] ]


"Reader's Digest" Word Power section sponsors a US National Vocabulary Contest.


* John Bainbridge, "Little Wonder. Or, the Reader's Digest and How It Grew," New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1945.
* John Heidenry, "Theirs Was the Kingdom: Lila and DeWitt Wallace and the Story of the Reader's Digest", New York/London: W.W. Norton, 1993
* Clem Robyns, "The Internationalisation of Social and Cultural Values: On the Homogenization and Localization Strategies of the Reader's Digest", in Jana Králová & Zuzana Jettmarová, "Translation Strategies and Effects in Cross-Cultural Value Transfers and Shifts", Prague: Folia Translatologica, 83-92, 1994
* Samuel A. Schreiner, "The Condensed World of the Reader's Digest", New York: Stein and Day, 1977.
* James Playsted Wood, 1958: "Of Lasting Interest: The Story of the Reader's Digest", Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1958.

ee also

* World's Best Reading


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ U.S. Select Editions (Condensed Books)]
* [ Canadian Reader's Digest]
* [ Indian Reader's Digest ]
* [ Australian Reader's Digest ]
* [ Singapore Reader's Digest ]
* [ Malaysia Reader's Digest ]
* [ Hong Kong Reader's Digest ]
* [ Taiwan Reader's Digest ]
* [ Thailand Reader's Digest ]
* [ Hungarian Reader's Digest ]
* [ Bulgarian Reader's Digest ]
* [ Czech Reader's Digest ]
* [ Slovak Reader's Digest ]
* [ Polish Reader's Digest ]
* [ Turkish Reader's Digest ]

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