I’d remember dad subscribing to a reader’s digest during my childhood days. Back then we used to have almost 8-10 periodicals every month. Of the memories I have of RD are the interesting anecdotes and interesting titles like “All in a day’s work, humor in uniform, quizzes and some detailed articles which referred to human triumph, covered common issues on health and other politically correct and feel good articles. Most of them cleverly cut paste from other books and mags. Amongst other mags RD was an out-and-out crowd pleaser. It also featured a “Word Power” section. There are a few aficionados I know of who have collected volumes of these mags and have them binded carefully. Thus giving them a look of a behemoth epic or a Gita/Koran used to swear by at the court . Such was the popularity of the RD mag.
But with the change of times and competition from umpteen magazines which have feature similar stories. RD lost its ground to other mags. Although not many know that it is a postal lottery company and is published 10 times a year. Featuring the greek Pegasus as its logo for over 44 years, it has gone over a revamp in 2007. If you’ve read it, you’ll probably identify a few things with it, like the annual sweepstakes they spam you with (“You may have already won something! This is the first step to your USD1million, watch out for the next! Scratch and see if you’ve won a year’s free subscription!”), offer on those large encyclopedias or special dictionaries or first aid guide books people buy but never read, free watches / table clocks / diaries for renewing your subscription… and lots of articles to read when you’ve nothing else to do.
Recent “googling” might show that RD was always second fiddle to the India Today in terms of popularity. First published in 1954 in India, it had held the 2nd most popular magazine till quiet some time. But the current situation the readership is down from about 7.2 million copies to almost a half 3.94 million copies by 2009. Primarily the pricing and change of tastes of today’s readers habits playing a major role in it. The current price being a quarter short of a Rs. 100. Size is probably is the one aspect which is constant for RD from the newsstands. But that too probably has dwarfed RD and has made it invisible . The content of the mag has substantially deteriorated as suggested by its cult followers. Although I found the ‘What HR people wont tell you about the job interview’ the only bright and smart article in most of last year’s editions. At times it seems like a Research & Development Magazine which publishes articles like “Top 20 secrets” or “What not to do on..”. It’s morally correct and globally accepted Editorial team seem not to get the pulse of youth in India. RD though still enjoys one popular loyal subscriber- that of the dentists and the medicine fraternity, but they too now leave their copies in the waiting room….