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Donkin's World: Down The Pan?

...You wouldn't have found articles by Hunter S Thompson in the Reader's Digest. Like many readers, my first encounter with the magazine was in a dental surgery. I remember before one check-up becoming engrossed in a feature headed: "I am John's testicle."...

Richard Donkin comments on the news that the UK arm of Reader's Digest has gone into administration.

Please visit Richard's entertaining Web site
http://richarddonkin.com/

To purchase a copies of his celebrated books please click on
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2
and
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Work-Richard-Donkin/dp/0230576389/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260983216&sr=1-1

Well, who would have thought it, the UK arm of Reader's Digest has gone in to administration. Will anyone buy it? Does anyone care? As the BBC report here notes http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8520243.stm, its readership is "quite literally dying off".

We were "forced subscribers" for a while in the early 1980s. My in-laws bought the subscription for us one Christmas. It was the kind of thing they did to sort of gently indoctrinate us in to their world view furnished, as it was (and still is) with the philosophies of provincial conservatism that draw heavily on Samuel Smiles, Benjamin Franklin and US Republicanism.

There was something sinister, I always thought, about those easy-on-the-eye articles featuring life-or-death rescues and health issues that usually included some barely subliminal moralising. The section entitled "it pays to enrich your word power" would regularly feed my father-in-law with some obscure word that he would strive to inject in to the conversation over Sunday dinner.

You wouldn't have found articles by Hunter S Thompson in the Reader's Digest. Like many readers, my first encounter with the magazine was in a dental surgery. I remember before one check-up becoming engrossed in a feature headed: "I am John's testicle."

I wouldn't have like to have written for the magazine even though it paid well. Its fact checking was fastidious in the extreme. The fact checkers rang me once over an article on arms to Iraq, an area I covered as a journalist in the late 1980s. I don't think even Saddam Hussein himself could have satisfied their finicky demands for detail.

It filled a niche in its heyday but I fear its offerings have been overtaken by the world of blogging and instant everything. For size and length of article, these pocket magazines made ideal loo reading material. Lavatories throughout the land will never be the same again.

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