HomeThis week in historyThe first Reader's Digest magazine is first published this day in 1922

The first Reader’s Digest magazine is first published this day in 1922


It has been one hundred years since the first Readers Digest magazine was first published in 1922. The periodical was the brainchild of Dewitt and Lisa Wallace. The couple saw a gap in the market for a magazine that published abridged and easy-to-read articles on a variety of subjects. Today it is the 4th largest magazine in circulation in America and thanks to global editions Readers Digest is the best-selling monthly journal in the world. The publication has reached 70 million people globally, and has been printed in 21 languages over 70 countries.

How Reader’s Digest was formed

DeWitt Wallace had the idea for the Reader’s Digest whilst he was recovering in hospital from shrapnel wounds during World War 1. Wallace’s idea was to gather articles from a variety of magazines and to rewrite them, whilst simplifying and shortening them.

The magazine grew beyond Wallace’s original projections. He had hoped the magazine would allow him $5,000 USD a year net income. By 1929, just 7 years later, the magazine would net $900,000 USD and have over 290,000 subscribers.

Today, Reader’s Digest has rebranded itself into a digital-first platform. Readers Digest had faced bankruptcy and closure, however, it is now thriving, reaching 1 in 4 Americans through digital and print media.

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