Reader's Digest Association Folds Healthy Cooking Magazine Into Taste of Home

Company Continues Bid to Focus on Largest Brands

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Reader's Digest Association is shutting down the bimonthly Healthy Cooking as a standalone magazine and transferring its 516,000 subscribers to the larger Taste of Home, continuing its effort to focus on its big core brands.

Reader's Digest Association doesn't plan any layoffs associated with the move and will begin running expanded healthy content in Taste of Home as part of the change, according to Frank Quigley, general manager of Reader's Digest Milwaukee, the unit that handles both brands. Taste of Home's section on healthy choices, for example, will double to eight pages.

Health Cooking, which replaced the company's Light & Tasty magazine in 2008, was profitable, Mr. Quigley added. But advertising had not been strong. "That was not an area where we broke through," he said.

The change of course eliminates significant costs in paper, printing and postage, but the company is also betting that it can better capture healthy-food advertisers with Taste of Home's bigger audience. Taste of Home averaged paid and verified circulation of 3.2 million in the first half of the year, compared with 637,798 for Healthy Cooking, according to the magazines' reports to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

"Healthy has become more mainstream," Mr. Quigley said. "When we did the math it made a lot of sense on the business side as well."

The move is only the latest change at Reader's Digest Association.

Last year it shut down Fresh Home magazine, which it introduced in 2009 with a plan to get a jump on the bottom line by getting most of its content from a sibling title in Australia, and sold Every Day With Rachael Ray, the once-hot food magazine. This summer it also agreed to sell direct marketing operations, including Direct Holdings Americas and most of the assets of Direct Entertainment Media Group. Magazine veteran Dan Lagani, meanwhile, lasted only a little over a year as president for North America before exiting in August.

Next year, however, the company is increasing the frequency of its flagship Reader's Digest to 12 issues per year from 10.

Healthy Cooking will publish its final issue in December. Taste of Home does not plan to increase the circulation promise it gives advertisers.

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