Readers InDigestion…

Reading magazines and periodicals is a rarity these days. The media invasion and the internet frenzy generation of ours has put a relative comma if not an absolute full stop to many mags.

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….


8 thoughts on “Readers InDigestion…

  1. I am a Ex- RD Subscriber. Called it quits, when I found its better to spend value for money bucks on Nat Geo than on a pocket size monthly which tries to teach me how to feel happy and grow rich and do stuff with Girlfriends and relationships. Plus the nagging Spam Mailers. The content seemed more and more American with its how to and what to list.. The genuine new stories too seemed too much edited and fake, for how can different people across the globe write on many different experiences but in the same tone and choice of language? I could no longer put up with the facade and pay for it too. So stopped the subscription for good.
    But yeah, the memory of long past old editions with their old bookish smell and especially the Jokes and word power column were the best.
    Today’s Youth does not have time to sit down and read a mag and when you try to teach him to spend his time with RD, you better hope for better results with asking him to go through Bible or Koran or Gita instead. Its Indian Editorial team is either pathetic or powerless and seems to be lost in modern Indian Youth Market.

  2. Sandy, rightly put state of RD. Yes, in the last few editions, HR -interview was the only pc worth the money.
    Somehow i feel sorry for the Digest…..they are loosing when they could easily be soaring if they adapt to the changing times..

  3. True! I remember some authors of especially true life stories who got carried away by their own eloquence making their stories a little too dramatic but passionate never-the-less. Ask the 7th or 8th.grade teachers today of the magazines they recommend their students. I vividly remember our English Ma’am, Miss Violet Moss stating – ‘U must go thru this months edition of RD before you pen down for the topic given for today’s comprehension. I wish to see those flowers in your essays tomorrow.’ And we used to rush to the Newspaper Man for the latest copy of RD, if only to please Miss Violet.
    I guess RD popularity is also affected by the growing interest in live talk shows & reality shows. People get lazy to leave anything to the imagination when they can actually get it picturised before them.
    I would recommend RD to every child especially in their formative years.

    1. Do not know if I am correct or not, but I feel they (Team RD) are a confused lot, with their main Editor in chief sitting elsewhere and may be not understanding the Indian Mood and dictating something which we no longer relate to..Moreover I feel Quality sells more than Quantity. I mean, Would You read 2012 ways to be happy!?! 101 ways to have a satisfying Relationship? Modern 20-40 yrs Indians who read mags, deem themselves a confident lot when it comes to how to handle life crisis, unlike the Americans and to some extent Europeans. Shrinks n Quacks sell there, but in India genuine Psychologist fail to convince their worth. Me thinks, its high time RD did a local market survey and took expert help to revamp their sales n dipping popularity very quickly, to get even a glimpse of their erstwhile popularity of heydays which is not long past.
      Moreover, the next comment needs research but, i suspect a size-able section may be buying RD for its Lottery Loot Scheme!! 😉

      1. @Amz the editor Mr.Mohan Sivanand for Team RD is in India, also it is currently marketed by India Today Group. Though the USP and the identity of the RD mag has been the foreign articles!! Yes I agree on the quality sells. I would say in the 70’s-80’s when the readership of RD in India was at its helm, there were only a handful of mags available. But in today’s scenario the market is actually flooded by a plethora of mags which deal with similar topics which RD covers. So to read about self help tips really might not be what the doc ordered for.Yes there have been flashes/glimpses where the RD mag does promise certain good topics, but for the price tag, I guess other online stuff on various sites have better content. RD’s now is just followed by the hardcore RD fans only, but with quality going down even they are vanishing. So a face lift can certainly help.
        Schemes are the oldest trick in the book to make things move, guess that’s what’s making RD work now.

        @Kamayani- To your last comment, I might just add that the RD today is not at par in terms of content with the older one. So recommendation to kids might not be such a great idea. Besides times have chnaged and tastes of today gen might vary!!

  4. Check out who the editor in chief is.. I feel its a non indian.
    Similair stuff happend wit their arab edition initially.

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