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The Reader's Digest Condensed Books were a series of hardcover anthology collections, published by the American general interest monthly family magazine Reader's Digest and distributed by direct mail. Most volumes contained five (although a considerable minority consisted of three, four, or six) current best-selling novels and nonfiction books which were abridged (or "condensed") specifically for Reader's Digest.[1][2] The series was published from 1950 until 1997, when it was renamed to Reader's Digest Select Editions.[3]

The series was popular; a 1987 New York Times article estimated annual sales of 10 million copies.[4] Despite this popularity, old copies are notoriously difficult to sell.[5][6]

For most of their publication schedule, the volumes were issued four times each year, except for 1950, the year of its launch. For the next four decades beginning in 1951, each year produced volume one (winter), volume two (spring), volume three (summer), volume four (autumn), with occasional additional volumes in limited edition (volumes five/six). The rate of publication gradually increased to a bi-monthly schedule by the early-1990s. The series was produced for 47 years (1950–1997), until being renamed Reader's Digest Select Editions. (Note: UK editions seem to have been somewhat different from USA editions. Pre-1992 Canadian editions also contain different titles.)

Occasional titles such as The Leopard (Summer 1960), The Days Were Too Short (Autumn 1960), and Papillon (Autumn 1970) were not written in English but published as abridgments of the translated versions. In some cases, advanced copies of the hardcover edition were printed in paperback form. In a few cases, new editions of older works (Up from Slavery, originally published in 1901 (Autumn 1960), A Roving Commission: My Early Life, originally published in 1930 (Autumn 1951) or Goodbye Mr. Chips, originally published in 1934 (Summer 1961)) were also among the condensed selections.

Contents

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These 1997 volumes were also published as Reader's Digest Select Editions, and all succeeding volumes were published as Reader's Digest Select Editions.


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ [https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02680426 Springer.com: "The continuous publication of the Reader's Digest Condensed Books directmail subscription series since 1950 is a cultural phenomenon."]
  2. ^ Publishers Weekly: "Reader's Digest Condensed Book Series to Get Wider Distribution", March 2015
  3. ^ Marchand, Philip. "Remembering the Reader's Digest Condensed Library". National Post. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  4. ^ The New York Times: "New Editor at Digest's Condensed Books", August 2, 1987
  5. ^ "Readers Digest Condensed Books as diffiult to dispose of as bins of radioactive waste"
  6. ^ Clayton Library: "We DON’T ACCEPT Reader’s Digest Condensed Books–they do not sell.".