Hearst's much-rumored purchase of Rodale was officially announced Wednesday afternoon in a joint press release by the companies. The purchase, which is expected to be completed in early 2018, involves both of Rodale's book group and its larger magazine division. The Wall Street Journal put the purchase price at under $225 million.
Scant details about how the merger will be handled have been released. In the announcement of the acquisition, Hearst said Rodale's "multi-content platform content business will be managed by Hearst Magazine."
While best known for its magazines, Hearst does have a small book operation that operates under the direction of Jackie Deval who is v-p and publisher. The unit, with a backlist of about 250 titles, does 30-35 books annually, most in cooperation with publishing partners such as Sterling and Chronicle Books. Most titles feature content from one of Hearst's magazines.
Rodale has a larger book division that is focused on wellness titles; it does a mix of original books and ones based on content from its magazines. Its most recent initiative was the launch of a children's imprint, Rodale Kids, which published its first titles this fall. Among Rodale's most popular recent releases, to date, are Jessica Alba’s The Honest Life, Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s Onward, and Dave Asprey’s The Bulletproof Diet. An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore is perhaps the house's best known title. A follow up by Gore, An Inconvenient Sequel, was released in July and has sold about 14,000 copies, according to NPD BookScan.
At press time, it was not clear how the Rodale books group, headed by Gail Gonzales who is v-p and publisher, will work with the existing Hearst Books unit.
The purchase by Hearst comes about fourth months after Rodale put itself up for sale.