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Davis to publish Dorling Kindersley history

Christopher Davis is to publish a history of Dorling Kindersley, the illustrated and multimedia publisher that is now owned by Penguin. The Rise and Fall of Dorling Kindersley will chart 25 years of what Davis described as its “pre-corporation history”. It will be published on 30th June, by UK independent Harriman House.

Davis joined Dorling Kindersley in 1974, the year of its foundation by Peter Kindersley and Christopher Dorling. Davis told The Bookseller: “It’s an affectionate memoir, but I’ve tried to be frank about both the strengths and weaknesses over the years.”

Dorling Kindersley rose to become one of the UK’s largest and most well-known illustrated publishers over its 25 years, with a turnover of £200m, and some 1,500 staff at its height. But a series of catastrophic printing decisions brought the company to its knees, and ultimately into the arms of Pearson, Penguin’s parent, in 2000.

Davis, who had left the business a year earlier, returned to run it at Penguin. But he said the Penguin years would be little more than a footnote. “It’s a celebration of pre-corporate DK, and a look at how things changed once it became a PLC.”

Davis said that Peter Kindersley had read the book. “He told me that it was a partial view, but as a partial view it was really good.”

Davis is currently publisher-at-large for the illustrated specialist Weldon Owen.

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