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Eyewitness The rise and fall of Dorling Kindersley: The Inside Story of a Publishing Phenomenon by Christopher Davis

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6 – Management by Hand Grenade

The company had been founded on a £10,000 overdraft, guaranteed against Peter and Christopher’s homes. But this was never drawn upon. The generosity of the arrangement with Random House in the US and the remarkable strike rate of the early titles were buffers against debt. The philosophy from the start had been to create a backlist – we worked on the basis that the first round of sales would cover the origination costs of a book plus overheads, and thereafter any reprint would be clear profit. It was remarkable that we achieved a level of financial stability so quickly. By the summer of 1977, thirty months after the official launch of Dorling Kindersley, we had produced just seven books. The first two made the ...

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