The Reader's Digest Association (RDA) publishes the undersized general-interest magazine Reader's Digest, which boasts 50 editions and is translated into some 20 languages. In addition to publishing its flagship title, RDA operates about 60 branded websites. It leverages its extensive consumer database of more than 140 million subscribers to market books (such as Reader's Digest Select Editions, how-to guides, and cookbooks), special-interest magazines, music, videos, and financial and health products in nearly 80 countries. Suffering from a heavy debt-load amid a down economy, RDA filed Chapter 11 for its US businesses, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010. It is owned by RDA Holding Co.
The company operates its business through three divisions. The North America segment includes US food and entertaining, home and garden, and DIY products as well as the Reader's Digest products and Canadian businesses. The Europe segment covers European direct marketing organizations and the Asia Pacific & Latin America segment, which covers direct marketing in those regions.
RDA markets its Taste of Home, The Family Handyman, Birds & Blooms, Country, and other brands in print, online, by digital download, through apps and social media, and on mobile reading devices. Globally, it boasts a circulation of 140 million across all its titles.
After a 2009 Chapter 11 filing reduced RDA's massive debt from $2.3 billion to $525 million, it committed to focus on its media and direct marketing businesses. It began selling assets, cut nearly 300 jobs, and implemented other belt-tightening measures. It has continued shedding assets to focus on its central brands (Reader's Digest, Taste of Home, and Family Handyman) in order to enhance shareholder value. RDA first sold Every Day with Rachel Ray to Meredith. In 2012 it sold its Weekly Reader subsidiary, which publishes a dozen educational magazines for teachers and students, as well as its food and cooking site Allrecipes.com to Meredith in a deal worth $175 million. It followed that by sending its Lifestyle and Entertainment Direct unit to Mosaic Media Investment Partners and its Spanish and Portuguese business to Portuguese mail order leader SAPE. In 2013 RDA licensed Reader's Digest France, French Belgium, Finland, and Sweden to SAPE and its Poland, Romania, and Hungary publications to Tarsago Media Group.
In 2007 an investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings spent $1.6 billion to take the company private. Ripplewood's $275 million investment in the company was wiped out after most of RDA filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Ripplewood relinquished its ownership of Reader's Digest to a group of lenders led by JPMorgan Chase called RDA Holding, and its executives left the board.