Reader Magazine Gears Up for National Expansion—Partners with Russell Johns Associates

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Chris Theodore’s Reader Magazine is a quarterly print publication that gives 390,000 Californians an antidote to the mainstream media as well as a dynamic direct mail alternative. He’s partnering with Russell Johns to replicate the same formula nationwide, to create the first publication in history to reach every American household.

“Let’s put something out there that lifts people up, inspires them, and reminds them of that power that is within them,” Theodore said. “That’s something really wonderful.”

Chris Theodore may act like a publisher, but he thinks like Johnny Appleseed: He seeks to replicate the success of his west coast Reader Magazine ( and spread it across America. To transform this vision into reality, he chose Russell Johns Associates as his partner.

“We envision Reader Magazine as a national publication sub-divided into 4,000 separate geographical zones, each of which will be made up of 30,000 households,” Theodore explained. “Each individual zone will be managed by a publisher who owns part of the company—and exerts a measure of editorial influence over local content as well as general content in sections that appear nationally.”

What Starbucks did for coffee—reviving its ancient values—the Reader plans to do for the $50-billion, direct mail industry: revive substance, story, and style in a 2,200-year-old information technology. Inside each Reader are stories from America’s best non-profit investigative news organizations and authors that, to growing numbers of people across the US, are champions of truth-telling.

According to Theodore, the dream has taken shape over many years and will now come into sharper focus through an intensive seven-month planning process in which they will map out, step-by-step, the nationwide rollout.

The Reader is currently divided into four zones, representing 17 cities:
ZONE 1 - Redlands, Mentone, Forest Falls
ZONE 2 - Yucaipa, Calimesa, Oak Glen, Cherry Valley, Beaumont, Banning, Cabazon
ZONE 3 - Reche Canyon, Colton, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace
ZONE 4 - San Bernardino, Devore, East Highland

Reader Magazine’s corporate structure is described as “a Benefit Corporation,” which means it considers the impact of its decision not only on shareholders, but also on society and the environment.

As publisher, Theodore wanted to replicate his West Coast success on a national scale without losing the key concept of strong community roots—no easy task. That’s how Russell Johns Associates ( became involved.

“As a trusted publisher’s representative, Russell Johns has been enhancing and developing advertising business strategies and furnishing solutions for publishers since 1968,” said Blaire Fanning, RJA’s CEO. “We provide customized, full-service representation for advertising sales, marketing, accounting and production services.”

Reader Magazine’s publisher put it this way: “We reached out to Blaire so we could take a step back from sales and pass these reigns to them, not only during the seven-month planning process, but hopefully beyond it as well.”

Theodore says that, as a child, his Mom, who he described as an idealist, inspired him: “There were things she would have sacrificed her life for,” he said. But that idealism was tempered with a hands-on practicality that set in motion a chain of events that helped prepare the future publisher for facing real-world challenges.

“I loved selling things: candy bars, carnival tickets, ” he recalls, fondly. “There was an aspect of the commercial side that I could respond to.”

That experience resulted in a combination of idealism and realism that has served Theodore well, which he summarizes this way: “Make your work mean something.”

That work, in Theodore’s case, turned out to be publishing, which is his passion.

“Right now, if you can get information that is truthful, it uncovers the fraudulent nature of our society,” he said.

To emphasize his point, the Reader publisher quotes George Orwell: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Theodore is counting on that truism to not only bear fruit—like it did for Johnny Appleseed—but also produce a healthy harvest with long-term yields.

“Let’s put something out there that lifts people up, inspires them, and reminds them of that power that is within them,” Theodore said. “That’s something really wonderful.”

To learn more about Reader Magazine, visit For more information about Russell Johns Associates and how it helps advertisers and publishers, visit or call (800) 237-9851.

ABOUT: For more than 40 years, Russell Johns Associates has supported publishers and advertisers in building working relationships that increase revenue potential and streamline processes. Reader Magazine is the newest member of the RJA family.

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Nancy Yeager - Accounting & Administrative Associate.
since: 05/2011
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