Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Publication, Theme.
A term used to describe a Magazine format, in contrast to, for example, Slick or Pulp, which are both larger. The format was made popular by the Reader's Digest, which first appeared in February 1922, though at that time the word "digest" meant that the magazine was presenting a selection of material from a wide range of other sources and thus making it "digestible" to the reader. The word referred to the content, not the size, but that original meaning has long since been superseded.
The page size of a digest is approximately 7.5 x 5 in (190 x 130 mm), though it can vary slightly; for example, Galaxy was normally a little smaller than Astounding. The latter was the first important sf magazine to turn digest, in November 1943, and by the mid-1950s almost all SF Magazines had followed suit, the Pulp format disappearing. The popularity of science fiction led to the digest magazine boom of the period 1952 to 1955, but by the end of the 1950s a blight had settled over the sf field. The competition with paperbacks led to some magazines taking on the pocketbook format, which averages 7 x 4.25 in (180 x 110 mm); notably New Worlds in the mid-1960s and Destinies from 1978 to 1981, an approach further encouraged by the growing market in Original Anthologies during the 1970s. Magazine circulation has continued to fall, especially newsstand sales, and magazines have tried various formats to retain their visibility. Some, such as Vertex and Science Fiction Age tried the letter-size Slick format, whilst both Analog and Asimov's have twice increased their dimensions so that they are now large digest, measuring 8.5 x 5.75 in (216 x 146 mm), virtually Review size (see Academic Journals). The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is now the only surviving true digest size sf magazine, retaining a consistency from its first issue in 1949. [MA/PN]
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