Bertelsmann did not disclose the terms of the deal, under which the Guetersloh-based company's BMG division will acquire Columbia House. Citing people familiar with the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported it was worth approximately $400.1 million.
"This move gives us strategic access to the growing business with DVDs, as well as broadening our customer base in the U.S. market," said Ewald Walgenbach, CEO of Bertelsmann's DirectGroup unit.
"In bringing together BMG Direct and Columbia House, we are combining two profitable businesses."
Columbia House has some 8 million members in the United States, Mexico and Canada and sells music online and through the mail. BMG Direct operates its own mail order retail business, sending out 68 million catalogs annually and through its Web site.
Bertelsmann said Stuart Goldfarb, chief executive of BMG Direct, would be president and CEO of Columbia House.
Bertelsmann's reach encompasses nearly all forms of media, with publishing, music sales and broadcasting operations in approximately 60 countries worldwide.
The company, founded in 1835, owns the Random House publisher as well as a 50 percent stake in Sony BMG Music Entertainment. It holds a 75 percent stake in publisher Gruner + Jahr and has 90 percent of broadcaster RTL. It also owns several book and music clubs, including DirectGroup.
Bertelsmann is not listed on the stock market. A majority stake is controlled by the Mohn family, directly and through a foundation. Group Bruxelles Lambert holds a 25 percent stake.