Readers Digest is a multi-brand and multi-platform media and direct marketing company that reaches 145 million customers worldwide through a combination of print, digital and DRTV product offerings. Products include magazines, books, music, video, and advertising, with offices in 45 countries and customers in 79 countries.

In 2010, Readers Digest re-emerged from a 2009 bankruptcy filing, effective February 2010. In February 2010, the UK subsidiary of RD filed for administration, and RD relinquished control and consequentially deconsolidated it. In January 2010, RD sold CompassLearning, its educational software division.

RD’s new focus as a “global media and direct marketing company” is to serve branded communities that “connect more than 130 million consumers around the world.”

According to a 2012 company report, books account for 36.5% of RDA’s revenues, with 32.8% coming from magazine subscriptions and newsstand sales, 10.5% from music and videos, and 9.2% from magazine advertising.

For this ranking, only revenues from publishing are included.

Key company developments in 2011 & 1st half year 2012


Because of RDA’s re-emergence and various re-organization measures, earnings cannot be directly compared between its current activities and those of the predecessor company.

Book publishing has been merged internally with home entertainment and other non-publishing products, representing a combined $867.2 million or 58.0% of total revenue: $476.9 million in Europe, $224.5 million in North America, and $165.8 million in APLA.

Another report for the first 3 quarters of 2011 stated that books alone represent roughly 36.5 % of revenues, which would amount to ca. $530 million.

Ownership, mergers & acquisition, internal organization:

On September 12, 2011, Robert Guth was appointed as President and CEO. Mr. Guth is also a member of the Board. Also, effective September 12, 2011, Thomas Williams agreed to resign as President and CEO, as well as a director, of the Company.

For 2011, RDA’s book publishing has been consolidated with its home entertainment business into one unit, while production and distribution has been outsourced.

The sales of Allrecipes.com and Weekly Reader were completed in the first quarter of 2012.


RDA operates in 78 countries, with Australia, Germany, and France the most significant markets by revenue. 78.9% of international revenue comes from books, music, videos, and nonpublished products; 21.1% comes from magazine subscriptions, website circulation, and advertising. For the year ending December 31, 2011, Europe sales generated net revenue and operating income of $568.8 million and $27.5 million, respectively, and Asia Pacific & Latin America generated net revenue and operating income of $245.6 million and $15.5 million, respectively.

Outside of North America, RDA is selling books in 33 countries, music products in 34 countries and video products in 30 countries. Select Editions, RDA’s largest open-ended reading series, appears in 17 languages and is sold in 31 countries. Other reading series and illustrated series are also marketed internationally. Reading series books are published in five languages and sold in 13 countries outside of North America, while illustrated series books are published in seven languages and sold in 16 countries.


RDA announced to “launch more digital products and continue to grow e-commerce channel," planning to increase digital profits by approximately 50% in 2012.

Bestselling authors & titles:


Key points for analysis & conclusions:

After filing for bankruptcy in 2009 and reemerging in early 2010, RDA is consolidating and restructuring, in pursuit of becoming a multi-platform cross media venture with increased profitability and greater share of digital revenues.

Earlier developments:

In summer 2009, Readers Digest had announced an operational loss of $560.6 million in the preceding nine months, and chose to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which it successfully moved out of in February 2010 after financial restructuring and cutting its debt by 75%. In the meantime, the company has raised $525 million in bond refinancing. (This does not however affect Reader’s Digest UK, which remains in administration.)

After the turnaround, Reader’s Digest issued a press released with Mary Berner, then President and Chief Executive Officer, which stated: "This is a very important day for our company, and emerging with a de-levered balance sheet and a strong new capital structure is a significant step forward as we continue to transform RDA into a global media and marketing leader."

In January 2009, RD announced to cut about 8% of its workforce. In March 2008, media reports expected RD to file for bankruptcy, based on estimates of $2.1 billion of debt after the take over of RD by Ripplewood Holdings in March 2007 for $2.6 billion. These reports were denied by RD’s management.

2007: RD was acquired by Ripplewood in 2007. A new company structure was introduced, making previous revenue figures of the Global Ranking inconsistent with the reported revenues for fiscal year 2008 (ending June 30, 2008). Only revenues from book publishing were referenced the current Global Ranking as they have been specified in RD’s SEC filing. In the previous ranking, all activities of Reader’s Digest (namely RD North America, RD International and Consumer Business Services) were included, as all these services seem to be highly integrated with the RD core business of publishing.

An investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings completed its $1.6 billion acquisition of the firm in 2007, in a transaction with an aggregate value of $2.4 billion. The investor group also includes the J. Rothschild Group, GoldenTree Asset Management, GSO Capital Partners, Merrill Lynch Capital Corp., and Magnetar Capital. Ripplewood Holdings, LLC is an American private equity firm based in New York that manages more than $10 billion in capital. Ripplewood was founded by its current CEO, Tim Collins. The company's main interests range from telecommunications to banking to entertainment.

Note: Figures are based on sales generated in calendar 2011 or—for corporations with a fiscal year—from fiscal 2011. Data are from publicly available sources and include sales of books, journals, and digital products. Because publishing data were unavailable, Pannini and Disney/Hyperion are excluded from the rankings. The listing and publisher profiles were compiled by international publishing consultant Rudiger Wischenbart under the aegis of Livres Hebdo.