Making Sense of the Consolidation of the Publishing Industry

Making Sense of the Consolidation of the Publishing Industry

Rodale Press, who published such well-known magazines as Men’s Health, Prevention and Runner’s World, had their assets purchased by Penguin Random House, a division of Bertelsmann. The deal is believed to be worth $225 million.  

Headquartered in the thriving metropolis of Emmaus, PA, Rodale also published a number of bestselling books, including An Inconvenient Truth (by Al Gore), Eat This, Not That(by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding), The Honest Life (by Jessica Alba) and Onward(by Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks).

Rodale had a good run. They were founded in 1930 and had an office in New York City. They launched the organic movement in the 40’s. Their mission, they said, was to “inspire health, healing, happiness and love in the world.” In 1947, JI Rodale started a farm to study organic agriculture. Located in Eastern Pennsylvania, the 333-acre farm revolutionized the food system, proving that healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people.

Young Blood

Maria Rodale was the third generation leader of the company. She was no doubt in a power struggle with Zinczenko, who was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health when he was 30 years old. He later left and founded Galvanized Media. After he left, Rodale told the press, “It’s not Dave’s Health. It’s Men’s Health.

During his tenure at Rodale – and beyond – Zinczenko managed to brand himself very well. In addition to Eat This, Not That, he has 13 other New York Times bestsellers. With over 10 million books in print, additional titles include The 8-Hour Diet and Men, Love & Sex.He even has his own publishing imprint at Random House called Zinc Ink.

Outside of being an author, he was recognized in both 2002 and 2007 by People magazine as one of the 50 most eligible bachelors. In 2013, he was named the Nutrition and Wellness Editor at NBC News. He has appeared on Good Morning AmericaWorld News Tonightand Nightline. Before that, he appeared for 10 years on The Today Show, where he primarily featured Eat This, Not That. So, during this transition, it should come as no surprise that Zinczenko is being brought back as the interim director of Men’s Health.

Related: Are Smartphones Creating the Demise of the Literary World?

The Truth: Hearst

Bicycling and Runner’s World will comprise the new “Hearst Enthusiast Group,” which will remain in the Lehigh Valley (part of Pennsylvania near Allentown). Hearst bought Rodale’s Global Content Business in October of 2017.

Hearst has a stellar lineup of magazines, including Car and Driver, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Food Network Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and Town and Country. They are very well diversified with 300 media brands across the globe and they are the biggest monthly magazine publisher in the world. Two-thirds of their profits, believe it or not, come from print, claims David Carey, CEO of Hearst Magazines. He thinks there’s still plenty of money to be made in the print business. On a Recode media with Peter Kafka podcast, he questions the durability of digital media companies. Because of the low barriers to entry, Carey suggests, pure play (digital only) companies are headed for a crash.

The demise of Rodale is sad. I still have several of their books on my shelf. Since the 1990’s, The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies: Thousands of Tips and Techniques Anyone Can Use to Heal Everyday Health Problems, has been my trusty companion. Russell Wild, who I met through my wife’s French class, is one of the editors. I remember one time I had a plantar wart and one of the suggestions was to will it away, which, fortunately, I did.  

Publishing continues to evolve. And media businesses will bifurcate even more. 

The parent company of Hearst – and now Rodale – is Bertelsmann, a media conglomerate that operates in 50 countries. It includes the broadcaster RTL Group (Europe’s leading entertainment network), Penguin Random House (which comprises nearly 250 editorially independent imprints, including Doubleday and Alfred A. Knopt), Gruner + Jahr (which has approximately 500 media activities, magazines and digital offerings including National Geographic), the Music Company BMG, Arvato (“One Stop Everything”) and three other Bertelsmann entities. 

Frank Felsburg
Content Marketing
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Frank Felsburg works with individuals and organizations to help them communicate their value through writing, speaking and marketing. He does this by ghostwriting books, blog ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: Feb 19-23

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: Feb 19-23

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, Feb 19-23, 2018

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Don’t Get Pinged by the Social Security Earnings Limit

I’d like to introduce you to Peggy. Born in 1956, Peggy will be 62 in 2018. She has worked in retail her whole life, the past twenty-five years spent in management. Peggy divorced from her husband 14 years ago, is still single and has no children. — Dana Anspach

2. We're Back to “Bad News is Good News” and “Good News is Great News”

This week the markets shrugged off last week’s fears and went back to the slow and steady melt up, despite economic news that looked likely to once again rock the boat. — Lenore Elle Hawkins

3. Q1 2018 Factor Views

Themes established in 2017 across a wide range of markets and factors continued to resonate through the fourth quarter. Economic growth was strong and supportive of equity markets across the globe, a range of volatility measures reached all-time lows, and business and consumer sentiment remained elevated. — Yazann Romahi and Garrett Norman

4. A Beneficial Basket of Commodities

Advisors and investors that feel they are hearing more and more about commodities and the corresponding exchange traded products in recent months are right. That is a natural result of dollar weakness and yes, the greenback is floundering again in 2018. — Tom Lydon

5. 3 Trends Shaping the Future of Asset Management

As the industry works to cope with new regulation, wades through an outpouring of new products, learns to satisfy investors’ shifting priorities and manages the active-passive debate, the viability of business units will be questioned, and at times radical measures will be taken. Peter Hopkins

6. 5 Ways Advisors Leave Money on the Table, and What to Do About It

My hope is that this article points out some opportunities for you to make more money and serve your clients at a higher level and that you decide to do something about it. — Bill Bachrach

7. The Market Has Gone Wild! Is It Time to Change Your Investment Strategy?

Whether the market is flying high or taunting your emotions with new lows and some bumpy volatility, here are four things every investor should keep in mind ... — Lauren Klein

8. How to Deepen Client Relations and Capture New Business Using Engaging Content

Why financial advisors NEED to understand much more clearly the power of good digital market. With tools like AdvisorStream, it’s easier than ever to get the content you need to drive leads and referrals today! — Kirk Lowe and Matt Halloran

9. Three Ways The Most Successful Gain Big Attention

How do some firms and ideas go from nowhere to everywhere in a few short months? All of a sudden a restaurant becomes popular, a gas station gains a cult following, or a Broadway show becomes too popular to get a ticket for years. — Maribeth Kuzmeski

10. Who Are the Hottest FinTech Firms and Influencers Around the World?

"Worldwide, $27.4 billion poured into fintech startups in 2017, Accenture reports, up 18% from 2016. With so much in play, it’s not surprising that 22 companies are new on this, the third edition of our list."  — Chris Skinner

11. The New Stock Market Normal Is Not What You Think!

Many sensational headlines have been written the past few weeks about market declines, but two things have increased for sure: the viewership and the ad revenues of financial media organizations — Preston McSwain​​​​​​​

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio