Reader's Digest Condensed Books

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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 popular; a 1987 New York Times article estimated annual sales of 10 million copies.[3] Despite this popularity, old copies are notoriously difficult to sell.[4][5]

For most of their publication schedule, the volumes were issued four times each year, with the rate gradually increasing 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 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.

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Most of the 1997 volumes aforementioned were also published as Reader's Digest Select Editions.

Succeeding volumes were published under the title Reader's Digest Select Editions.


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