Warren drops Reader's Digest joint venture
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service
November 05, 2009

Warren drops Reader’s Digest joint venture

Warren drops Reader's Digest joint venture
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service
November 05, 2009

Megachurch Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren and the Reader’s Digest Association will stop co-publishing their quarterly magazine, the partners announced Wednesday Nov. 4.

Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, will move the magazine online.

The partners unveiled The Purpose Driven Connection in January, a slick publication that featured spiritual guidance from Warren and a DVD for small group discussions. The annual subscription of $29.99 included special access to additional online resources.

“Our biggest discovery was learning that people prefer reading our content online rather than in print, because it is more convenient and accessible,” said Warren in a statement. “When we heard the feedback and noticed subscriptions to the print magazine lagging behind Internet usage, in spite of strong retail newsstand sales, we jumped at the chance to go all digital.”

Since the launch of the magazine, the number of subscribers to Warren’s daily digital devotional has increased by about 100,000 to more than 400,000.

The last print edition of the magazine will be published in mid-November. In 2010, its content will be posted for free on the web site www.purposedriven.com.

A. Larry Ross, a spokesman for Warren, said the print magazine had only U.S. subscribers.

“From the Saddleback perspective, it’s not about closing a magazine,” he said. “It’s about expanding the digital.”

The Reader’s Digest Association will refund unused print subscriptions and aid Warren’s Saddleback Church in hosting the Web site through the first quarter of 2010.

“The customer satisfaction feedback was off the chart, and is the proof of a successful concept,” said Alyce Alston, president of Emerging Businesses, who developed the project for RDA, in a statement.

The RDA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August to help reduce its debt. Ross said the decision about “Purpose Driven Connection” was not related to RDA’s reorganization.