Reader’s Digest Revamps Print Mag, Adds E-Mail Newsletter And Apps

Reader’s Digest Association is continuing its long comeback since emerging from bankruptcy in February with a (yet another) makeover of its 88-year-old print mag and the addition of several new offerings, including an e-mail newsletter, an iPad app and book publishing.

The company held a press conference this morning to discuss its latest reboot. According to MIN Online’s rundown, the company plans to get the flagship back to its roots as the original news and feature articles aggregator.

The iPad app will be released at the same time the February issue hits the newsstands. There will be a daily Reader’s Digest Best You e-newsletter and book imprint that will focus mostly on health care issues.

Aside from the flagship mag’s iPad app, the publisher will introduce 12 other mobile apps that will reflect usual Reader’s Digest segments such as humor and home repairs, Crain’s NY Business reported. Lastly, there will be six new special interest print pubs will be unveiled. Specifics for the 24 new products overall are to come.

While these are all touches that most major publishers have added over the past few years and so it might not seem that novel. But considering this is a company that was on its back just a few months ago, its ambition is nevertheless noteworthy, especially given its deep cuts over the past year. The sudden embrace of change is also coming as RDA has moved its headquarters into midtown Manhattan from its longtime home in Pleasantville, N.Y.

The decision to focus more on aggregation isn’t just an attempt to appear more web-like. Rather, it’s part of its overall desire to keep costs down. It also comes amid continued struggle for the publisher, even as many of its print mag peers have seen better times this year. Ad pages have have fallen 17 percent through September this year, according to MIN. On top of that, Reader’s Digest also cut its publishing frequency this year to 10 issues from 12, which also accounts for the steep decline in ad pages.