|Genre||Instructional / reference|
|Publisher||IDG Books / Hungry Minds. Later John Wiley & Sons.|
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. Despite the title, their publisher has taken great pains to emphasize that the For Dummies books are not literally for dummies. The subtitle for every book is, "A Reference for the Rest of Us!". As of March 2013[update], over 1,800 For Dummies titles have been published. 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. 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 don't fit readily elsewhere.
In November 1991, the first title, DOS For Dummies, was written by Dan Gookin and published 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 on software and technology topics (and still does), 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.
Expansions and alternate 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.
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.
BitTorrent piracy lawsuits
In October 2011, John Wiley and Sons sued 27 BitTorrent users in New York for pirating books from the For Dummies series. The company claimed that their losses to piracy were "enormous" pointing out that demonoid.me recorded more than 74,000 downloads since June 6, 2010 for the single title Photoshop CS5 All-in-One-for Dummies. According to TorrentFreak, Wiley is thus "the first book publisher to take this kind of action."
- 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.
- "About For Dummies". Dummies.com. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- The For Dummies Success Story
- John Wiley & Sons, Inc. to Complete Acquisition of Hungry Minds, Inc. Wiley, September 21, 2001
- Parker, E. Timothy. "Tips for Solving Crossword Puzzles". dummies.com.
- Milliot, Jim. Wiley Goes After Bit Torrent Pirates. Publishers Weekly. November 1, 2011.
- Major Book Publisher Files Mass-BitTorrent Lawsuit. Torrent Freak. October 31, 2011.