Warren’s Reader’s Digest Project Crashes and Burns

Last year, Reader’s Digest announced that it was partnering with Rick Warren “to produce an inspirational multimedia platform called The Purpose Driven Connection.”  Just a few months later, the magazine announced that the effort had been such a success that it was going to become the model for the future as the magazine.

Well, now a few more months have passed and the project is shutting down:

The Reader’s Digest Association is dropping its high-profile joint venture with TV evangelist Rick Warren, due to a lack of subscriptions to the Purpose Driven Connection, The Post has learned.

The magazine will cease publication after the Christmas issue due out in mid-November.

Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California and author of the bestselling book “Purpose Driven Life” said that he and RDA will transition the project into a web only venture over the next few months.

RDA, which is operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will cease funding the operation entirely in March 2010 and turn the project over to the Warren’s company.

UPDATE: Warren and Reader’s Digest are claiming that they are shutting down the magazine because the website has been so successful:

“Impressive reader feedback has prompted us to focus all our energies on our digital format, so our content can be expanded, international, interactive and free,” Warren explained. “The positive response from readers was so overwhelming we didn’t want the content to be limited only to Americans who could afford a subscription to a magazine.”

“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. “Cell phones now allow us to take content everywhere. And, from our viewpoint, an online magazine allows us to minister to people internationally; provide more content and features than we could fit in a print magazine; create interaction and two-way dialogue; and offer it for free.

“So 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,” Warren concluded. “Thankfully, Reader’s Digest was willing to help us make the transition.”