Reader’s Indigestion

The venerable Reader’s Digest has filed for Chapter 11.

Reader’s Digest, launched by a husband and wife in New York in 1921 began as a mail-order collection of condensed articles from other magazines and evolved into a direct-mail pioneer and one of the world’s largest publishers.

The Wall Street Journal once described it as the greatest publishing success since the Bible.

It was a publication I grew up with  – I first read it when I was nine – and I’m saddened by the news.

Nine of its 94 magazines have a circulation of more than 1m in the US alone, and its titles claim a combined global readership of 130m people in 78 countries.

But the group has been hit hard by changing reading habits and an advertising recession that has affected print even more than other media.

Advertising revenue from the flagship magazine fell 18.4 per cent last year and is down another 7.2 per cent in the first six months of this year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Equity investors, led by Ripplewood Holdings, who announced the US$2.4bn acquisition in November 2006, will lose their entire US$600m investment.

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