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The Digest Enthusiast, Book One (publication review)

What would you do if you are already spending your money on books, movie/music magazines, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, t-shirts and a few more cultural addictions?

Well, in my case, I have discovered another sucking hole for spending my hard-earned moolah. I was just trying to fill the quota for free delivery of goods on Amazon, when the clever bastard of the shopping card had brought to my attention a small publication (among others, I have to add) named The Digest Enthusiast, I believe, issue 7. What can I tell you, it didn’t take long to read the description to see what’s it about and being quite pedantic with my reading material, there is no other choice than starting with the issue #1, which was published in January 2015. That’s what I do and that is what I did.

And so it’s arrived. Hmmm… first browsing and I’m already hooked up. So, what do we have here? Don’t worry about it being from 2015, the content is timeless! For me as a former print publisher and now digital publisher with the Rubber Axe webzine the most interesting reading consists almost always of interviews with various more-or-less known/unknown people from publishing world. Therefore, an interview with Phyllis Galde, the publisher and editor of Fate magazine (pages 4-13) was an absolute treat, topped up by another great interviews with Gordon Van Gelder, the publisher and editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction (pages 34-40) and Archie digest collector Matthew Turcotte (pages 103-115). What a treasure of digest-related information!

I don’t think I ever gave a thought about protective sleeves for my own small, but growing, collection of printed materials. Shame on me! That’s why the article by D. Blake Werts titled “Digest 911: Protective Sleeves” is of interest to any concerned collector of printed stuff. The only problem for me (but I can’t blame neither the editor nor the author itself) is the conversion of inches and derived measurements to centimeters and milimeters, but let’s be honest, most digest publishers were from the good ole USA and using imperial measures. But I think it’s good to mention that. Still the chart of measurements for protective plastic bags is more than useful.

Rudolph Schmidt has reviewed an issue of Fate #725 (page 14-16) and I regret (once again) the cost of postage prohibiting getting subscriptions to many great US-based magazines and fanzines. I’d totally devour such magazine! Yeah, printed material can’t be beaten by e-publication, although I try hard to like it as much. OK, at least I can save some trees…don’t know, still prefering print. But that’s my ranting now, so let’s get back to the issue we’re looking at.

An article by Larry Johnson about Galaxy Science Fiction digest (pages 17-22) is another great read and I just crave reading that nice digest…actually, I might have some scanned issues on my harddrive somewhere!

Interesting bit of a “general interest” digest is presented in a review of June 1950 issue of Coronet (pages 31-33). I haven’t even heard of the title! Well, we all learn new stuff everyday, don’t we?

Pages 47-58 introduces “In Defense of Digests”, and while I don’t engage in any war of words between fans and collectors of pulp magazines versus fans and collectors of digests, this article (along with nice ilustrations depicting covers of various digest publications) provides me, as an absolute newbie to the field and genre, with enough material and titles to devour plus a chronology of development of genre print publications. Oh yeah, I am absolutely thrilled.

It’s Fate again, the 3rd time in this issue, but in an one-page (page 59) article by Rudolph Schmidt we learn about Fate trading cards. This one passes me by, but hey, I can’t collect everything! Still, an interesting read.

Following is the article by Charlie Jacobs about the digest “The Big Story” (pages 60-66) and we’re introduced to yet another interesting publication (and again, the cover ilustrations of various issues are totally captivating), and it’s followed by a review (Rudolph Schmidt) again of Paperback Parade #85, published by Gryphon Books (pages 67-68), the publication dedicated to discussion about everything paperback/digest. Something to check out next time, I guess.

I have to admit I hadn’t made it through the whole article of “Myron Fass: Foto-Rama and His Other Digests, 1956-76) by Tom Brinkmann, as this kind of publications doesn’t really attract my attention. But it’s well researched and accompanied with illustrations of covers of various issues, and there are collectors of these as well, so again, no complaining.

The fiction is presented here as well. Pages 26-30 contain a short story by Joe Wehrle, Jr., pages 41-46 are reserved for the crime fiction “The Presidential Election” by Lesann Berry and 20 pages between pages 82 and 102 bring up the crime fiction “The Foul Breath of Fresh Air” by Richard Krauss (with illustrations by Michael Neno).

And that’s basically all of 116 digest-sized pages of The Digest Enthusiast and I bet you won’t read it in one setting! I am well impressed and the publishers, Larque Press LLC, have just got a new fan here! Well recommended to all fans of fiction and literature in general!

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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