For Dummies is an extensive series of instructional/reference books which are intended to present non-intimidating guides for readers new to the various topics covered. The series has been a worldwide success with editions in numerous languages.
The books are an example of a media franchise, consistently sporting a distinctive cover—usually yellow and black with a triangular-headed cartoon figure known as the "Dummies Man", and an informal, blackboard-style logo. Prose is simple and direct; bold icons, such as a piece of string tied around an index finger, are placed in the margin to indicate particularly important passages.
Almost all Dummies books are organized around sections called "parts", which are groups of related chapters. Parts are almost always preceded by a Rich Tennant comic that refers to some part of the subject under discussion, though the comics were discontinued in 2012. Sometimes the same Tennant drawing reappears in another Dummies book with a new caption.
Another constant in the Dummies series is "The Part of Tens", a section at the end of the books where lists of 10 items are included. They are usually resources for further study and sometimes also include amusing bits of information that do not fit readily elsewhere.
The first title, DOS For Dummies, was written by Dan Gookin and published in November 1991 by IDG Books. DOS For Dummies became popular due to the rarity of beginner-friendly materials for using DOS. The Windows title written by Andy Rathbone was soon released. While initially the series focused solely on software and technology topics, it later branched out to more general-interest titles, with topics as diverse as Acne For Dummies, Chess For Dummies, Fishing For Dummies and many other topics, including recent legal topics with Success as a Mediator For Dummies in 2012. The series is now published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., which acquired Hungry Minds (the new name for IDG Books as of 2000) in early 2001.
Notable For Dummies books include:
- DOS For Dummies, the first, published in 1991, whose first printing was just 7,500 copies
- Windows for Dummies, asserted to be the best-selling computer book of all time, with more than 15 million sold
- L'Histoire de France Pour Les Nuls, the top-selling non-English For Dummies title, with more than 400,000 sold
Expansions and alternative versions
Several related series have been published, including Dummies 101, with step-by-step tutorials in a large-format book (now discontinued); More ... for Dummies, which are essentially sequels to the first ... For Dummies book on the subject; For Dummies Quick Reference, which is a condensed alphabetical reference to the subject. A larger All-in-One Desk Reference format offers more comprehensive coverage of the subject, normally running about 750 pages. Also, some books in the series are smaller and do not follow the same formatting style as the others.
Wiley has also launched an interactive online course with Learnstreet based on its popular book, Java for Dummies, 5th edition.
A spin-off board game, Crosswords for Dummies, was produced in the late 1990s. The game is similar to Scrabble, but instead of letter tiles, players draw short strips of cardboard containing pre-built English words. The words vary in length from three to seven letters, with more points acquired for playing longer words. Another board game, SAT Game For Dummies, is used in SAT preparation. A Chess for Dummies was made, a black-and-yellow chessboard with a picture of a piece, along with a summary of how the piece moves, printed its starting positions, although there is a book with the same name.
In 2009, French publisher Anuman Interactive obtained the digital exploitation rights and launched many applications based on the For Dummies collection, such as Home Design 3D For Dummies and History For Dummies.
With more than 200 million books in print and around 2,500 titles, For Dummies brings together a bevy of authors including Herman Aguinis, Dan Gookin, Karl Barksdale, Michael Taillard and Andy Rathbone, Wayne Baker Brooks, Patrick Joseph McGovern, Loren Weisman, Mark Kellner, Mary Jane Sterling, Mark Ryan and Stephen P. Maran.
For Dummies series in popular culture
- Complete Idiot's Guides – a similar series of how-to books from Alpha Books
- FabJob – a similar series of how-to-books for starting a business or dream career
- Teach Yourself – another similar series published by Hodder Headline
- The For Dummies Success Story Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Fletcher, Carol (February 8, 2007). "John Wiley takes over Blackwell Publishing". The Record. 112 (249). Hackensack, New Jersey: New Jersey Media Group. p. B3 – via Newspapers.com.
- John Wiley & Sons, Inc. to Complete Acquisition of Hungry Minds, Inc. Wiley, September 21, 2001
- "Ten (or So) Eye-Popping Statistics". For Dummies. Archived from the original on February 28, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
- Group, Gale; Grant, T. (1999). International Directory of Company Histories. Gale virtual reference library. St. James Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-1-55862-386-6. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
Not knowing anything about computers, the customer suggested, 'Something like DOS for dummies.' The remark stuck with Kilcullen. In 1991 he was attending a publishing conference as the co-founder and publisher of IDG Books Worldwide. One of the speakers at the conference was author Dan Gookin. Impressed with Gookin's take on the publishing industry, Kilcullen signed him up to author DOS for Dummies. The first print run of DOS for Dummies was 7,500 copies. The book ...
- "Online Java for Dummies". Archived from the original on March 24, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
- Parker, E. Timothy. "Tips for Solving Crossword Puzzles". dummies.com.
- "Logiciels: Anuman Interactive s'attaque au marché américain". January 5, 2004. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
- "All Titles – For Dummies, page 100".
- "Write Dummies Books - For Dummies". dummies.com. January 10, 2016. Archived from the original on January 10, 2016. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
- "Wiley: For Dummies". John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved August 29, 2014.