Let me paint you a picture. It’s May 1999. Amazon exists, but you have never shopped online in your life. You open the latest issue of Reader’s Digest, with the cover lines: A Love Too Strong to Die; Handle Stress Like a Pro; Credit Card Fraud; UFOS: A Second Look; and It’s Tomato Time! You flip through, and your eyes fall upon the ubiquitous pullout ad for the Doubleday Book Club, the literary equivalent of the Columbia House program. Get up to 7 books for 99 cents! So: What are you ordering?
The three selections on the front of the ad are Suze Orman with The Courage to Be Rich (I’m sure I could find the bravery somewhere); Danielle Steel’s Bittersweet; and Mary Higgins Clark’s We’ll Meet Again. But there are so many more titles inside the folding card. We’ve got Cher’s memoir, The First Time; The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe; Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell; Gingersnaps. If you are really looking to have a hot summer, there’s The New Joy of Sex, 101 nights of Grrreat Sex, and 203 Ways to Drive a Man Wild in Bed to choose from.
Whatever you choose, your gift as a new subscriber is either a free book—maybe Say Good Night to Insomnia—or a green striped oversized tote bag. (They stress that the tote bag is oversized.) The response card is obviously helpfully provided under the promise: Doubleday delivers more for less!
Personally, I am opting for Burpee’s Complete Gardener; Antiques on the Cheap; Jennifer Crusie’s Crazy for You; Nora Roberts’s Inner Harbor; Betty Crocker’s Best Baking; a book about Princess Diana whose author my eyes are too bad to puzzle out; and, just for fun, The Secret Language of Dreams.