Kirkus operates a number of services including: Kirkus Indie, a review service for self-publishers; Kirkus Editorial, book editing services for unpublished and self-published authors; and Kirkus Marketing, services that help authors get discovered by consumers as well as industry influencers, such as publishers, agents and film executives. Self-published book reviews are solicited through the Kirkus Author Services at a price between $425–$575 per review. If the review of a self-published book is negative, authors are given the option of keeping the review private.
Virginia Kirkus was hired by Harper & Brothers to establish a children's book department in 1926. The department was eliminated as an economy measure in 1932 (for about a year), so Kirkus left and soon established her own book review service. Initially she arranged to get galley proofs of "20 or so" books in advance of their publication; almost 80 years later, the service was getting hundreds of books weekly, and reviewing about 100.
Initially titled the Bulletin, the title was changed to Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Service with the January 1, 1955, issue and successively shortened to Virginia Kirkus' Service with the December 15, 1964, issue and Kirkus Service in 1967 before attaining its definitive title of Kirkus Reviews with the January 1, 1969, issue.
Kirkus was published by Kirkus' (Virginia) Bookshop Service from 1933 to 1954, Virginia Kirkus' Service from 1955 to 1966, and Kirkus Service starting in 1967. It was sold to The New York Review of Books in 1970. It was later sold by the Review to Barbara Bader and Josh Rubins. In 1985, magazine consultant James B. Kobak acquired Kirkus Reviews.
David LeBreton bought Kirkus from Kobak in 1993. BPI Communications, owned by Dutch publisher VNU, bought Kirkus from LeBreton in 1999. At the end of 2009, the company announced the end of operations for Kirkus. The journal was purchased from VNU (by then renamed The Nielsen Company) on February 10, 2010 by businessman Herbert Simon. Terms were not disclosed. It was thereafter renamed Kirkus Media and Marc Winkelman, a book-industry veteran, was made CEO.
- Rich, Motoko (December 11, 2009). "End of Kirkus Reviews Brings Anguish and Relief". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on November 21, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
- "Kirkus Reviews History". kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- "Kirkus Book Reviews". Kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- "Frequently Asked Questions | Kirkus Indie | Kirkus Book Reviews". Kirkusreviews.com. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Marcus, Leonard S. (2008). Minders of Make-Believe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 104, 111. ISBN 978-0-395-67407-9.
- Dougherty, Philip H. (April 4, 1985). "Consultant Acquires Kirkus Reviews". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
- "Kirkus Reviews being acquired". Publishers Weekly. August 23, 1993. Retrieved November 12, 2012. (Reprint at Accessmylibrary.com)[dead link]
- "Kirkus Reviews Acquired By Publisher of Billboard". Libraryjournal.com. August 2, 1999. Retrieved November 12, 2012.[dead link]
- Rich, Motoko (February 10, 2010). "Kirkus Gets a New Owner – From the N.B.A.". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2012.