30 Vintage Reader’s Digest Covers That Will Take You Back
Some of these covers are absolutely stunning.
Reader’s Digest through the years
Chances are you’ve seen a copy of Reader’s Digest sitting on your grandparent’s coffee table or heard someone say, “give me the Reader’s Digest version” in a movie or television show. Our brand has been around for a while and continues to unite readers and their families through stories, humor, and top-notch advice. Take a trip down memory lane with us and view some vintage Reader’s Digest starting with the very first issue in 1922. Take a look at these lasting photos from past issues of the magazine.
DeWitt Wallace knew that people wanted to read stories, but they were overwhelmed with the selection, so he curated stories from different publications and condensed them into a digestible length—what people now call “the Reader’s Digest version.”
Within five years of releasing the first issue, the Wallaces were printing 30,000 copies. Check out these 20 real-life heroes that are highlighted in the magazine in our Everyday Heroes section.
By the 1940s, Reader’s Digest was selling more than a million copies every month. It was the best selling magazine in America.
In the 1940s the only book that sold more copies than Reader’s Digest was the Bible.
One of the many appeals of Reader’s Digest is its small “pocket size.” It can easily be taken with you to read on the train or at the park. Take a look at these vintage photos from Christmases past.
Many publishers rejected DeWitt Wallace’s idea for a condensed magazine and they created the first issue on a very low budget.
In the beginning, DeWitt and his wife produced the first issue out of their Greenwich Village apartment in Manhattan. Lila kept her job as a social worker to continue paying the rent. These are the most glamorous vintage photos of life in the 50s.
The article, “Cancer by the Carton” by Roy Norr in the December 1952 issue lead to the biggest drop in cigarette consumption in America since the Great Depression. These vintage photos show how glamorous flying used to be.
After the magazine became more successful, Wallace would commission articles and offer the full version to other publications, from which Reader’s Digest would run the condensed version.
In the late 1930s, DeWitt and Lila Wallace acquired a property in Chappaqua, New York, for their growing company and employees.
In 2004, the company had to sell the building and, in 2009, they moved their headquarters to New York City.
The building has since been re-purposed, but many still know it as the Reader’s Digest Building and think of the magazine when they drive by. Check out the best vintage postcard from every state.
The draw of earlier versions of Reader’s Digest was that the table of contents was printed on the cover, making it easy for readers to see what stories they were going to get with each issue.
Reader’s Digest produces more than just a magazine. They also publish books and maintain a website. This story, which originally ran in a 1983 issue of the magazine, will convince you to stop saying, “Let me know if you need anything.”
RD.com publishes hundreds of original articles online every month, covering topics such as trivia, pets, personal technology, travel, humor, and holidays and observances.
We’ve recently launched a new brand, The Healthy, which covers all things in the health and medical fields.
At one point in time, the global readership of Reader’s Digest exceeded 100 million.
The Wallaces retired in 1973, but the company lived on. It had to for its devoted readers.
Other publications under Trusted Media Brands are Taste of Home, Family Handyman, The Healthy, Birds & Blooms, Reminisce, Country, Country Woman, and Farm & Ranch Living.