Reader's Digest - The Story of a Magazine

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG041 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Corporate Restructuring
Case Length : 12 Pages
Period : 1996 - 2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Readers Digest Association (RDA, US)
Industry : Publishing
Countries : USA


The case examines the evolution of the Reader's Digest magazine since its launch in the early-1920s towards becoming the largest selling magazine in the world by the 1980s. It explores the reasons behind the subsequent reduction in profitability and fall in subscriber base during the mid-1990s.

The case examines in detail the restructuring and magazine redesigning efforts undertaken by the company to increase profitability and reach during the early 21st century. It also discusses the future of the magazine in the light of criticisms faced by the company on account of the redesigning initiatives and acquisition of Reiman Publications in 2002.


Introduce the students to the basic philosophy behind the launch of Reader's Digest Magazine and the reasons behind its phenomenal success over the decades.


  Page No.
The Downfall of a Leader 1
Building The Reader's Digest Empire 2
Ryder to the Rescue - The Restructuring 5
Readers Do Not Digest 6
Exhibits 9


Evolution, Reader's Digest magazine, 1920, largest selling magazine, 1980, subsequent reduction, profitability, fall in subscriber base, 1990, restructuring, magazine redesigning, increase profitability, Reiman Publications, 2002

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