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About Us

About DK: History

Dorling Kindersley was founded by Christopher Dorling and Peter Kindersley in 1974. The company, set up with £10,000 capital, was initially established as a book packager producing books for other publishers. DK is now the world's leading family illustrated reference publisher and has established a worldwide reputation for its innovative non-fiction books for adults and children.

Click on the books below to see the evolution of DK book jackets and read more about DK in the year they were published.

Picture of the old Dk office on Henrietta Street 1974 - A fire at the Dutch repro house where DK's first three books had been sent threatens to bring the whole venture to a premature end. But the small, driven team manages to salvage the situation and deliver all three books within their deadlines.
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The Book of Photography 1975-1978 - DK moves to new offices in London's Covent Garden, (home for the next 26 years) and produces its first eight titles - three of which go on to become million sellers. One of those, The Book of Photography by John Hedgecoe, was an instant success and was re-published by DK in 2003 in a new and updated format.
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Success With Houseplants 1978 - DK wins a major packaging contract with the Reader's Digest. This was the first time that outsiders have been commissioned to produce a book for The Reader's Digest.
The resulting title Success With Houseplants appeared in 1979 and its US print run exceeds
2 million copies. This initial contract is the start of a successful relationship between DK and the Reader's Digest, which lasts for several years.
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First Aid Manual 1982 - DK becomes a publisher in the UK, triumphantly negotiating a contract to edit, design and produce a brand new first aid manual for the three voluntary aid societies: the Red Cross and its sister associations - the St John's Ambulance and the St Andrew's Ambulance. It is the first book to appear under the DK name, and is the only first aid title to be endorsed by all three associations. The use of photography and clarity of style is a key factor in its success.
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Life Through the Ages 1987 - Christopher Dorling retires and the Reader's Digest buys 50% of the shares. DK launches the first children's list with the Windows on the World series. 1987 also sees Peter Kindersley asking himself a question that starts a revolution in children's non-fiction publishing: "Where are all the exciting books for kids?"
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The RHS Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers 1989 - DK publishes The RHS Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers. This publication begins another long standing and highly successful partnership. Since then, DK and the RHS (the world's leading horticultural organisation) have created an extensive range of encyclopedias and guides on every aspect of plants and gardening techniques. With this first title, and the subsequent ones, DK sets an unprecedented standard in gardening publishing.
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Save the Earth 1991 - After successfully packaging books in the US, DK Inc is founded to publish DK's first titles in the US market. DK set up a number of new businesses including DK Multimedia and DK Vision in the area of broadcast and video. This brings DK products directly into homes and schools ensuring the DK brand reaches as many different social groups as possible.

DK prints 450,000 copies of Save the Earth in 17 languages for simultaneous publication across the world at noon on 17th September 1991. This is in conjunction with the United Nations Conference on Environmental Development in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
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DK 1992 - DK is floated on the London Stock Exchange. It is one of the year's most successful floatations.
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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: New York 1993 - The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are launched. The guides are a reinvention of the conventional travel guide. Full of colour, they are unrivalled in quality, illustration and practicality. The initial four titles began a series that has grown to over 100 titles and has been translated into over 30 languages. DK is voted Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards.
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The Way Things Work 1994 - DK Multimedia is launched as a publisher. Its first list of multimedia titles included David Macaulay's The Way Things Work. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide series wins the Thomas Cook Guide Book Award.
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1995 - DK acquires Henderson Publishing, taking over the hugely popular Funfax series.
1996 - DK acquires the 112 year-old Hugo Language Books Ltd adding useful titles to DK's reference publishing. Phrase books and dictionaries add a further dimension to the bestselling DK Eyewitness Travel Guide series. DK's natural history series Eyewitness (produced by DK Vision) is nominated for two categories in the 1996 Emmy Awards.

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After Dark (Funfax Eyewitness Books) 1997 - DK acquires Acacia (UK publisher of curriculum based Educational CD-ROMs) and this focus on education results in DK Multimedia being renamed DK Interactive.
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DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary 1998 - Another successful partnership results in the first printing of 350,000 copies of the prestigious DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary. This title is particularly well received internationally.
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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Norwegian Phrase Book 1999 - DK Eyewitness Travel Guides win The Daily Telegraph Readers' Travel Awards Best Guide Books.
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DK 2000 - Pearson, the media group behind Penguin Books, acquires DK.

DK and Penguin relocate to the Strand, London, a move that coincides with a restructuring of DK. DK Vision continues to concentrate on its successful Eyewitness Guides series and takes over the sales and distribution of some of the most well-loved children's animation including Spot, Peter Rabbit and Mr Benn. DK Vision works closely with Pearson Broadband Education Television creating interactive broadband content for the world market.

GSP (Global Software Publishing) gain the rights to publish, market, sell and distribute the English version of a range of former DK CD and DVD ROM titles; Macron software gain the rights to do the same for translated editions on a global basis.

Andrew Welham is appointed Global Managing Director, tasked to bring the various DK businesses around the world back into a coherent, dynamic and profitable global corporation.
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Animal 2001 - Bolstered by vigorous support from Penguin sales and marketing, DK is back in the business of delivering premium quality information books for all ages and interests. With the publication of Animal, Dorling Kindersley firmly re-establishes itself as the pre-eminent publisher of family reference books. On the children's list The Ultimate Robot Kit is also highly successful, making learning about science interactive and fun for children.
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Rolling With The Stones 2002 - An exciting year for DK with the publication of author-led titles such as Bill Wyman's Rolling With The Stones, Supersex by Tracey Cox, and Matt Roberts' Fitness For Life Manual. The children's title A Life Like Mine is published in association with UNICEF, and the DK website is redesigned and relaunched to wide acclaim.
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The Complete Gardener 2003 - A year of big names, big brands, and big campaigns. Judith Miller follows the success of her Antiques Price Guide with the Collectables Price Guide also in full colour. The illustrious Monty Don joins the gardening list with The Complete Gardener, and DK Eyewitness Travel Guides celebrate 10 years of great publishing. For children, DK launches the first in a groundbreaking series of reference titles, the e.enyclopedia.
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RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening 2004 - A strong list of home reference titles corresponds with DK's 30th anniversary, illustrating a commitment to grow and renew publishing lines in which DK traditionally had a strong market presence. Another anniversary is heralded with the publication of the bicentennial edition of the RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening, celebrating 200 years of the Royal Horticultural Society.
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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China 2005 - The publisher of Dorling Kindersley, Christopher Davis, who joined the original team at DK in 1974, retires. Gary June, an experienced publisher with strengths in sales, marketing and new business creation, joins DK as CEO in July. In addition, DK titles win various awards, including the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides series, which wins the Observer/Guardian Travel Guide of the Year Award for the second year running.
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DIY - Know How With Show How 2006 - DK publishes 'category killer' DIY - Know How With Show How (the only DIY book with step-by-step photography) which goes on to win a British Design & Production Award 2006. Rainforest is also published, featuring stunning wildlife photography from previously unknown Swiss photographer Thomas Marent, and launches with an exhibition at the Proud Gallery in London.
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Can You Feel The Force? 2007 - DK celebrates winning The Royal Society Junior Prize for Science Books 2007 for a record eighth time with Richard Hammond's Can You Feel The Force?. It also publishes History with Adam Hart-Davis, tracing the origins of mankind and covering the complete story of the people, events, themes, ideas and forces that have shaped human existence. DK welcomes Ricky Gervais' sidekick Karl Pilkington and publishes Happy Slapped By A Jellyfish, a hilarious guide to his travels.

February sees the launch of traveldk.com, a unique website that allows travellers to create, customise and print their own travel guides using content from DK Top 10 Travel Guides. Traveldk wins three awards including the Travolution Best Use of Technology in a Travel Website award.
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Earth Matters 2008 - DK shows its commitment to ethical publishing by producing Made With Care, a range of books produced using the most environmentally sound practices available. The press welcome this new 'greener' publishing with glowing coverage from Sky News, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and BBC Radio 4's Open Book. The original ground-breaking children's Eyewitness reference series marks its 20th anniversary and Dr Miriam Stoppard celebrates 25 years with DK.

DK continues to work on an ongoing digital strategy, aiming to convert the entire catalogue of trademark quality reference material into an innovative and accessible range of digital formats, including eBooks, blogs and widgets.
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RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design 2009 - Highlights of 2009 included the publication of key titles Evolution Revolution and Lego books; hugely successful campaigns such as the Great Garden Trail to launch the RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design which was attended by over 4,000 people and partnerships with London's leading art galleries for the sold-out Children's Book of Art Treasure Trail. DK has also launched travel apps for the DK Eyewitness Top Ten Travel Guides for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
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The Natural History Book 2010- 2010 marks another great year for DK with the landmark publication, The Natural History Book. 20 years in the making and covering over 5,000 species it is a stunning visual guide to the Earths natural history in true DK style. LEGO® publishing is a big success and DK finish the year celebrating the partnership by breaking the Guinness World Record™ for building the largest LEGO® mosaic. DK's eBooks go from strength to strength taking full advantage of the iBookstore with notable successes including Karl Pilkington's Karlology and Happyslapped by a Jellyfish.
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The DK Quiz
2011 - 2011 saw the launch of the DK Quiz. Bringing our award-winning information to life like never before, we created a fantastic, one-of-a-kind online quiz with over 10,000 questions on everything from films and food, to the stars and Spiderman. The LEGO® Minifigure Ultimate Sticker Collection reached No. 1 in the Children's Chart and DK's MasterChef books continued to go from strength to strength with MasterChef at Home and the MasterChef Kitchen Bible publishing in 2011 with sales worth over £1.3 million. With the integration of digital into the DK publishing strategy this year, we also celebrated winning three awards for DK The Human Body App.
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40 Years of ideas 2014 - DK celebrates 40th years of successful publishing. All DK territories across the globe, join in the activities, including charity support as DK gives back, to mark this major landmark in our history. July marks the one year anniversary of being part of Penguin Random House.
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