Abridged books

23 12 2011

I love Google Books’ old collection of Life magazines. Especially the ads. Here’s an excerpt from a January 31, 1955 ad for Books Abridged, Inc. (emphasis is theirs):

Dr. George Gallup recently revealed in his polls that an astonishingly high percentage of the nation’s university graduates no longer reads books. The reason is obvious: just because of their educational advantages, they usually occupy positions where they are busy, busy,  busy always! As a result, many of them feel they are stagnating intellectually by missing the stimulation and broadening of interest one can get only from books. Books Abridged is a sensible service directed straight at the cause of the problem: lack of time. The books are always in the authors’ own words; and they are shortened, never rewritten, by a staff of editors who have had more than fifteen years’ experience in this field, and who have never failed to satisfy the authors themselves.

Which leads me to wonder: how satisfying would it be to spend fifteen years shortening the works of other writers? I suppose it’s better than telemarketing.

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