History of Reader's Digest Magazine Part 4

About the major reference guide the Reader's Digest magazine, the modern operation and examples from the magazine.

The Story behind READER'S DIGEST

Modern Operation: The Digest editorial staff spends more than 5,000 total hours reading and selecting articles for each issue. All major English-language magazines and newspapers are scrutinized regularly, scientific journals and scholarly quarterlies are examined, and foreign publications are screened by Digest offices abroad. A piece tentatively considered "usable" by, say, editor "A" is then sifted down through a series of other editors ("B") for their opinions. From the articles that survive such culling, the editor in charge of the issue ("C") selects those articles that, when added to the Digest originals and the book condensation already scheduled, will give variety and balance to that particular issue. A chosen piece is next returned to editor "A" for condensing, then sent back to editor "C" for checking. From there it goes on to the managing editor ("D"), to the executive editor ("E"), and finally to the editor in chief ("F"), each of whom may either delete further or restore something that has been removed. While this process is going on, researchers are meticulously checking the article for factual accuracy. (Approximately 2,000 facts are traced through some 450 reference sources for each issue.) If an article is potentially libelous or could possibly be construed as an invasion of privacy, it is also forwarded to the Digest's lawyer for legal advice. An article that successfully survives this process is retyped, sent to a copy editor, then to a Digest artist for illustration, and finally to the printer in Dayton, O., who sets it in type. Page proofs are returned to the top editors for further corrections, after which the proofs are returned to the printer for resetting. Last-minute editing may still continue via telephone. The closing date for an issue is necessarily two months before publication, because the print run is so enormous that it takes one full month just to put it through the press.

Size and Distribution of Sales: Reader's Digest boasts a circulation of approximately 30 million copies monthly in 170 countries, with a readership estimated at 100 million people.

Examples of Typical Material: From "Laughter, the Best Medicine":

When a guest at a Hollywood wedding was asked what he was giving the couple, he replied: "I'll give them about three months."

--Earl Wilson, Field Newspaper Syndicate

From "Points to Ponder":

What! No star, and you are going out to sea?

Marching, and you have no music?

Traveling, and you have no book?

What! No love, and you are going out to live?

--Translated from the French From "All in a Day's Work":

I had asked a friend, a meter reader for the electric company, if dogs were a problem for him. No, he said. His predecessor had thoughtfully indicated those homes having unfriendly dogs by adding this notation in his route book: "Meter Reader Eater."

--Contributed by E. Louise West

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