The Reader’s Digest Association Inc. hopes to expand its readership base through a wide-ranging multimedia partnership with Rick Warren, one of the nation’s best known Christian ministers and writers.
In the ambitious collaboration announced yesterday, the Chappaqua-based publisher and Warren said they will jointly produce products aimed at “people who are seeking their purpose in life and wish to interact with others on their spiritual journeys.”
The venture will include a quarterly magazine, “The Purpose Driven Connection,” for which Warren will serve as editor-in-chief.
Other products will include DVDs, workbooks, Internet-based discussion guides and a Christian social networking website.
For Reader’s Digest, the partnership fits with management’s strategy to develop new revenue streams and diversify the company. Profitability suffered before a private-equity buyout of Reader’s Digest nearly two years ago. In addition, the flagship Reader’s Digest, while still the world’s largest magazine, has struggled to overcome a reputation as a product that appealed more to an aging demographic than younger readers.
“This is one of our company’s most important and far-reaching ventures ever,” said Alyce Alston, president of the Reader’s Digest Home & Garden and Health & Wellness affinities. “Together we will create a category-busting multimedia suite that will help millions of people in their daily lives, including those who already follow the Purpose Driven principles as well as seekers everywhere looking for greater fulfillment.”
Warren has a big national following as the founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., a congregation with more than with 100,000 members. He also is a best-selling author whose book “The Purpose Driven Life” has sold more than 30 million copies since its debut in 2002 and has been translated into nearly 100 languages.
Warren even was an influential figure in the presidential campaign when he hosted a question-and-answer session with candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.
The magazine is expected to begin publishing in early 2009.
“The magazine will be consistent with our highest editorial standards,” said Frank Lalli, vice president of international editions and magazine development at Reader’s Digest. “In the best traditions of RDA, we are commissioning extraordinary photographers, illustrators and writers to travel the world and capture real-life stories that will change how readers think and inspire them to take action to improve society.”
The partnership also will promote Saddleback Church’s Peace Plan that seeks to mobilize Christians to combat global problems, including spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases and illiteracy.
“We are excited about this new partnership and its unprecedented potential for international impact,” Warren said in a written statement. “The Purpose Driven Connection represents more than simply integrated multimedia resources; it will become a platform for a movement of people to change the world.”