It has become part of the lexicon. You name a topic, and there is likely to be a “For Dummies” book about it or in the works. But it all started in 1991 with the publication of DOS for Dummies. Going into its 21st year, For Dummies has come a long way, having been part of Wiley since 2001.
“Over 250 million For Dummies books and millions more licensed products have been sold in the U.S. alone,” says Andy Cummings, v-p, publisher, For Dummies technology and new business development. He’s been working on the branded series for 18 years. More than 62 million American adults have bought Dummies books, he adds, owning on average 3.5 Dummies titles each.
“Things are constantly changing and evolving,” says Cummings. He points out that the topics of the recently published titles featured in the BEA booth (3722)—Food Blogging, Pinterest, Online Community Management, and WordPress for Dummies—did not even exist five years ago.
The Dummies recipe over the years has been to enlist compelling experts in their fields to present the most up-to-date and easy-to-follow instructions for tackling their subjects—often on the cutting edge of technology and communication.
Cummings said the Dummies team works hard to make sure it is pursuing the topics at the fore of market interest in all fields—and it also takes suggestions from Dummies users. In addition, the company looks for strategic partnerships when it sees an opportunity, such as pairing with AARP for Social Security for Dummies, which has become a “runaway bestseller.”
But whether it’s technology or Running a Food Truck (a title coming in August), Cummings says readers can continue to rely on the brand’s “classic hallmarks,” from its black-and-yellow design to its easy-to-follow, authoritative material on a selected subject. “We are not going to change that formula,” he says.
Aside from its success in print and e-books, Wiley has recently revitalized its online Dummies presence. Cummings says that traffic on Dummies.com increased by 50% last year. There are thousands of articles online as well as entertaining and informative how-to videos. Dummies even has its own YouTube channel.
Among the forthcoming books on display at Wiley is one that goes beyond the Dummies mold: The Book of Business Awesome: How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive by Scott Stratten. Written by a global business consultant, The Book of Business Awesome is actually two books—one read from the front and then flipped over to be read from the back—in order to address the needs of employees and employers in one binding.
“I’m asked from time to time if we will ever run out of topics,” says Cummings. Looking over the backlist and forthcoming titles, it’s doubtful. But then, any dummy would know that.