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Reader’s Digest Association
Pleasantville, NY 10570 USA
1922, by DeWitt and Lila Wallace
RDA offices located in:
RDA products sold in:
100 million households / diverse geography & demographics
Reader’s Digest Australia
80 Bay Street, ULTIMO, NSW2007, Australia
Reader's Digest History
Who Founded Reader's Digest?
As De Witt Wallace lay in bed recovering from injuries sustained in World War I, he found there was a wealth of interesting information to read and absorb. Realising few people would have the time to get through all this information, he knew exactly what to do. In 1920, the entrepreneurial young American submitted a sample magazine containing condensed articles to publishers across America. All turned him down.
Undeterred, De Witt and his new bride Lila Bell Acheson published the first issue of Reader's Digest in February 1922. Working from home, the Wallaces printed 5000 copies, which were sold exclusively by mail to 1500 subscribers and priced at 25 cents. From these humble beginnings grew the world's most widely read magazine.
What Happened Next?
The magazine flourished and, by 1935, circulation topped one million. In 1938, the first international edition was published in the United Kingdom. During World War II, editions were published for the first time in Latin America and Sweden. After the war, Reader's Digest moved into Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland.
In 1950, Reader's Digest launched its Condensed Books (now known as Select Editions in Australia). In 1959, music, the first non-print product line, was introduced. In 1962, Reader's Digest revolutionised direct mail by introducing easy-to-enter Sweepstakes and, a year later, the first Reader's Digest general book was published. In 1986, video was added to the Reader's Digest product line-up.
In 1973, the Wallaces gave up active management of Reader's Digest. De Witt died in 1981 aged 91; Lila in 1984 aged 94. With no heirs to the Wallace empire to take control, Reader's Digest became a public company in the early 1990s and is now headed by a Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board.
In March 2007, an investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings L.L.C. completes historic transaction resulting in the acquisition of Reader's Digest Association, returning the company to private ownership status after 17 years as a publicly traded company. Mary Berner, former President and CEO of Fairchild Publications, named President and CEO of Reader's Digest Association.
Reader's Digest is one of the most successful publishing stories in the history of global magazines. It now appears in 50 editions in 21 languages, with more than 100 million readers every month.
Reader's Digest in Australia
The first Reader's Digest was published in Australia in 1946. We have a team of dedicated Australian editors, writers and researchers who strive to provide the most relevant stories and information for Australians.
Each month, Australian Reader's Digest has local articles complemented by articles sourced from all over the world to produce a well-balanced publication.