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Reader's Digest in July will distribute 2.5 million copies of a special themed issue on the "American Dream," the first time the magazine has published an extra issue outside its regular schedule.

The issue also will boast another first for the digest-size monthly: a cover featuring only a photo instead of the magazine's trademark table of contents. The cover experiment is seen as an informal test for the flagship product.


Reader's Digest has increasingly been breaking down internal barriers to market itself more aggressively. Its February issue featured an ad on the back cover, for example, space the magazine had previously refused to sell in 42 years of accepting ads.

"It all ties into innovation," said Gregory Coleman, VP-general manager of U.S. publications for Reader's Digest Association and U.S. publisher of Reader's Digest. "We're trying to do things differently for the reader and for the marketer."

The "American Dream" issue is being sold as a stand-alone to advertisers and as a package with the magazine's 75th anniversary issue in April. Some 1.5 million copies will be sent to subscribers coming up for renewals and another 1 million copies will be distributed on newsstands with a cover price of $2.50, 25 cents higher than the regular-issue price.

The issue will cover a range of topics, including freedom and family, as well as featuring essays on the American dream.

Advertisers in the April issue were able to add a page in the "American Dream" issue for $9,500. Reader's Digest charges $192,000 for a page in its full-run edition, which has a rate base of 15 million. A page in the extra issue only is $20,000.

That cheaper rate could attract advertisers that can't afford the magazine's regular rates. Reader's Digest also publishes several demographic editions that lower out-of-pocket ad costs while targeting specific groups of readers.

Mr. Coleman said about 85% of the anticipated 75 ad pages in the extra issue will be sold as a package with the anniversary issue, the magazine's largest ever in terms of ad revenue at $23.6 million. It will carry 122 ad pages.


If the extra issue is successful, he said, Reader's Digest will look at other special issues. It could do a second one this year, for example, tied to the holiday season. The magazine may also consider a switch to a single-image cover for regular issues.

"We have no definite plans, but we'll be watching [the extra issue] closely, and

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