Reader's Digest Increases Frequency, Countering Magazine Trends

Takes Print Edition Back to 12 Issues a Year From 10

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Reader's Digest is making an unusual move for the magazine industry today: Next year it will increase its annual frequency from 10 to 12 issues.

The move undoes a frequency reduction that took effect in 2010 as part of a broader "transformation into an innovative multimedia brand" that also included cutting print circulation to 5.5 million from 8 million. Reader's Digest Association today attributed the increase to demand from digital subscribers. "Our digital issues are garnering unprecedented demand and readers have been vocal about their desire for new content on a more-frequent basis," said Robert Guth, president-CEO at Reader's Digest Association, in a statement.

Reader's Digest Association last month reported "disappointing" results for the most recent quarter, including an operating loss of $93.2 million after a $113.4 million write-down partly due to "declines in prevailing market conditions in publishing and direct-marketing industries."

Reader's Digest, however, has been running more ad pages this year. Ad pages in the issues from January through September increased 11.2% from the period a year earlier, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Monthlies as a whole, meanwhile, saw ad pages slip 4.9%.

Established magazines are more likely to trim issues from their schedules these days than add them amid soft ad support for print but considerable expenses. Hearst Magazines, for example, cut Woman's Day from 15 times a year to 12 in January. Spin magazine halved frequency from monthly to bimonthly in March. Then in July, its new owner, the website publisher BuzzMedia, canceled the final issue of this year as it worked on deciding its plans for the print edition. Most recently Conde Nast said it will cut Brides magazine to six times a year in 2013 after a brief effort at capturing more ad pages and newsstand revenue as a monthly.

Reader's Digest is keeping circulation at 5.5 million, a spokesman said.

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