Reader's Digest Hits Milestone

Caption In this photo provided by Reader's Digest magazine, the 1,000th issue of the 83-year-old mini magazine, is shown. The commemorative August 2005 issue, which comes out next week, includes a 95-page section devoted to "the big ideas that will change our lives in the next five to ten years," such as do-it-yourself doctoring, food as medicine and extreme vacations. CBS/AP

If your grandmother claims she's squirreled away every issue of Reader's Digest, there will soon be an easy way to check: just go up to the attic and count to 1,000.

The 1,000th issue of the 83-year-old mini magazine comes out this week, and the occasion is likely to prompt thoughts about the Digest's colorful history and its status as an American symbol.

But the magazine, which is celebrating with a party in Manhattan on Thursday night, is studiously looking forward rather than back. The commemorative August issue includes a 95-page section devoted to "the big ideas that will change our lives in the next five to ten years," such as do-it-yourself doctoring, food as medicine and extreme vacations.

"History can be found anywhere these days, books or the Internet or whatever," Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Leo said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We have to tell people that w are not only of their present but of their future, too, and that we're looking out for them."

The cover proclaims "Special 1000th Issue," but the magazine barely mentions its own history. There's nothing about founder DeWitt Wallace, who priced the first issue in 1922 at 25 cents - it's now $2.99 on the newsstand. His magazine was a quick success, and by 1925 the Pleasantville, N.Y., post office was forced to expand to handle all the mail. The Digest moved to Chappaqua in 1939.

There's "Laughter, the Best Medicine" and "Humor in Uniform," but no mention that Reader's Digest has run more than 100,000 jokes and paid more than $25 million for them.

And there's a table of contents, of course, but no mention that until 1998, all the stories were listed on the cover. For its first three-quarters of a century, you didn't have to open up the magazine to see what was inside.

Soon you won't have to open the magazine at all. Beginning July 26, the entire issue will be available on the Reader's Digest Web site. It's free for now, but Leo said that may become a new way to subscribe. The magazine's small size means it can be seen at actual size on the computer screen, she noted.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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