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Book, CD and DVD Clubs Moving to the Net

Reuters reports that German media group Bertelsmann plans a return to the Internet and is looking at transforming its Direct Group of book, CD and DVD clubs into an Internet networking scene for 'older' people.

The company believes that Direct Group can turn its aging customer base of around 35 million to its advantage by changing its traditional clubs into Internet communities of like-minded people united by their similar cultural interests.

"People are getting older, and older people are getting lonelier and they will need communities where they can share their interests," Chief Executive Gunter Thielen told Reuters in a recent interview. Thielen said Bertelsmann had been studying the demographic trends of the Western world, which point to a future with aging populations, many of them likely to have no or few children and larger disposable incomes than before.

And though Bertelsmann's vision is still at an early stage, some online analysts said they saw potential for the idea. Direct Group, part of Bertelsmann's heritage as it grew to become the world's fourth-largest media group, runs book and music clubs in 22 countries around the world.

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