Reader’s Digest Association filed for Chapter 11 protection on Monday, but that doesn’t mean Reader’s Digest the magazine is going away anytime soon. Global editor in chief Peggy Northrop told WWD no staff changes are in the works because of the bankruptcy and it will basically be business as usual. She noted the company already made job cuts back in January, which affected 8 percent of the global workforce, or 250 jobs.
Meanwhile, worldwide magazine ad pages are up 2 percent for the end of fiscal year 2009, which ended in June, and readersdigest.com hit a record for site traffic during the same month, at 2 million unique visitors. From January to June, unique visitors were up 82 percent and ad revenue rose 99 percent during the same period. “We have a very strong brand, and that is translating online,” said Northrop.
Now, Reader’s Digest is going portable. RDA is launching “Earn, Save, Thrive: How to Get Ahead in Today’s Economy, The Reader’s Digest Version,” on the Kindle on Sept. 8, at a price of $5.99. Three more Kindle-friendly publications are on the way in October.
The bankruptcy filing also isn’t stopping RDA from launching a new health magazine, Best You, in March. Targeted at women over 40, Best You will be led by Northrop and have an initial rate base of 500,000. A spokeswoman said the beauty category will be the number-one target for advertising, and on the edit side, Eleni Gage, formerly of People, In Style, Elle and Allure, has been hired as beauty editor.
More changes to come include a new name for RDA at some point, although Mary Berner, chief executive officer, has been talking about this for some time. And speaking of Berner, she recently agreed to a new base salary during the restructuring process. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the ceo will receive $125,000 a month during the company’s Chapter 11. If she is not offered a contract to stay on as ceo following the restructuring, she will bank a onetime cash severance of $2.2 million.