Although it was a giant in the printing industry, until the early 1920s RR Donnelley had little experience in one major commercial market-mass-circulation magazines. That changed when the company, which operated as a non-union "open shop," began printing the Saturday Evening Post, Christian Herald, Popular Science, and other top-selling magazines when the printers of these publications were experiencing labor strikes. RR Donnelley, which was able to keep its presses running almost without fail through these turbulent years, secured contracts with several monthlies including Motion Picture Magazine, Popular Science, Prairie Farmer, and Rotarian. While these were prized accounts, one magazine category remained elusive-the coveted weeklies that were then the mainstay of popular culture.
In 1926, when Henry R. Luce was rumored to be considering a change in printer for his news magazine, Time, which then had a circulation of 110,000, T. E. Donnelley arranged to meet with Luce to make the case for the account. T. E.'s presentation must have been convincing because as Luce wrote in a letter to T. E.: "Although heretofore your company has not specialized in magazine work...and although it has never printed a high-quality fast weekly, we have faith in your company's long and vast experience in various kinds of printing, and its pride in workmanship, its control of all the factors entering into printing, and above all its expressed desire to undertake the responsibility of printing Time." A contract for RR Donnelley to print Time was signed in October 1927.
Luce believed that Time would never exceed a circulation of more than 300,000, but by 1934 circulation had passed the 500,000 mark. By 1965 RR Donnelley was printing three million copies of each weekly issue of Time.
|6. Dummy edition of Life, July 30, 1936. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive.|
|7. Life, vol. 1, no.1, November 23, 1936. Chicago: Time, Inc., 1936. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive.|