The fall of Reader's Digest?

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Not exactly sure what this says about me, but I am quite distressed that Reader’s Digest is filing for Chapter 11. According to the Associated Press:

The publisher of Reader's Digest, the country's most popular general interest magazine, said Monday it will seek Chapter 11 protection from creditors amid declining circulation, an industry-wide advertising slump and large debts.

Reader's Digest Association Inc. said it has reached an agreement with a majority of secured lenders to restructure its debt. Under the plan, the lenders get ownership of the company and will erase much of the $1.6 billion they have in senior secured notes.

Although, I haven’t read or purchased the magazine in quite some time (admittedly that may be part of the problem), it was a staple in my house when I was growing up. My dad had a subscription (and still does, I think), so there was always a copy lying around the den, the car, the kitchen. So, I — a consummate cereal box reader type — would often pick it up and thumb through it. I found my personal favorite segment to be “Drama in Real Life!” which served as a precursor, no doubt, to my current Forensic Files obsession. And the jokes ... Who knew? A one-stop shop for sharpening wit, your vocabulary and your general knowledge of random subjects.

Reuters reports that the restructuring is aimed at helping the magazine cut debt and gain financial flexibility, but the fleeting thought that Reader’s Digest could possibly one day be a thing of the past, well ... sucks. The AP says that this year the publication cut the circulation guarantee it makes to advertisers to 5.5 million, from 8 million and lowered its frequency to 10 annual issues from 12. Of course Reader’s Digest isn’t alone in this dilemma. It has simply gone the way of other publications that have run up against financial crunches, low circulation and difficulty carving out an Internet presence. But Readers Digest is interesting, personal, funny, intellectually stimulating — a lot more than I can say for many other struggling newspapers and magazines.

So, I’m headed out now to hunt down a copy to demonstrate to no one in particular my own miniscule show of support for the mag. And to perhaps learn a little something interesting today in the process.

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