One of the best success stories in supplying popular books is the Readers Digest Condensed Books series, also known as Readers Digest Select Editions. These anthology books are available through subscription on a bi-monthly basis. Each volume contains three to five books that are classed as best sellers. The titles are mostly novels and they are chosen by Readers Digest editors. The books are carefully condensed, retaining the spirit of the book, so nothing essential is lost.
The well-known series began in the 1950s. People were looking to a brighter future after the austere years of the Second World War and many wanted to read the famous novels of the day. Money was still tight for a lot of people however, and Readers Digest Condensed Books were affordable and gave good value. Early titles included The Wooden Horse by Eric Williams, The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, and The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat.
The volumes have always been a mixture of classic and contemporary stories, presenting thrillers, romance, adventure and comedy. Diversity has always been the key for Readers Digest Condensed Books and titles in the 1960s included A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold by John Le Carre. Some readers were already familiar with the stories through their movie adaptations. The 1970s brought Love Story by Erich Segal, The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, and Jaws by Peter Benchley.
In the 1980s, the list featured Patriot Games by Tom Clancy and A Matter of Honour by Jeffrey Archer. There was also Gracie, written by comedian George Burns and Anne Frank Remembered, the moving account of Miep Gies, a friend who had helped to hide the Frank family from the occupying German troops in Amsterdam in World War II.
More best sellers followed in the 1990s, delighting the loyal customers who looked forward to each edition of the Readers Digest Condensed Books. They included The Rainmaker by John Grisham, Disclosure by Michael Crichton, and Thunder Point by Jack Higgins. There was also the much-anticipated sequel to an epic book. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley carried the story on from where Margaret Mitchell had left it in Gone With the Wind. The success of the books series is assured as the top titles are selected and carefully presented to the public for their enjoyment, and still reasonably priced.