RDA’s Warren Mag Folds to the Web

By Steve Smith

Claiming that the online success of its new Purpose Driven Connection magazine and digital property was enormously popular online, the magazine announced yesterday it would become a Web only content service. Published as a partnership between Reader’s Digest Association and pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, Purpose Driven Connection came to print in January. While an online fee-based service component was always part of the model, the church announced today that “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,” the group said in a statement. The Christmas issue will be the print magazine’s last, and new interactive features will launch online in January. RDA is refunding unfulfilled subscriptions to readers and will host the Web site through the first quarter of next year.

Purpose Driven Connection had appeared to be one of RDA’s big wins earlier this year. The partnership was designed as a cross-platform package that included the magazine, Web-site access and DVDs. At the time, RDA pitched it as a new model in magazine publishing and integrated product and packaging.

Warren admits that print subscriptions were “lagging,” however, which led to the decision to go Web-only. But sign-ups for the free online daily devotional e-letter grew to more than 400,000. “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.