Established in 1974, DK publishes a range of titles in genres including travel (including DK Eyewitness travel), history, science, nature, sport, gardening, cookery and parenting.
The worldwide CEO of DK is Ian Hudson. DK has offices in New York, Melbourne, London, Munich, New Delhi, Toronto, Madrid, Beijing and Jiangmen.
DK was founded as a book-packaging company by Christopher Dorling and Peter Kindersley in London in 1974, and in 1982 moved into publishing. The first book published under the DK name was a First Aid Manual for the British voluntary medical services; this book established the company's distinctive visual style of copiously illustrated text on glossy white background. DK Inc. began publishing in the United States in 1991. That same year, Microsoft bought a 26 percent stake in DK.
In 1999, it overestimated the market for Star Wars books and was left with millions of unsold copies, resulting in crippling debt. As a direct result, DK was taken over the following year by the Pearson plc media company and made part of Penguin Group, which also owned the Penguin Books label. DK has continued to sell Star Wars books after the takeover.
In 2013, Bertelsmann and Pearson completed a merger to form Penguin Random House. Bertelsmann owned 53% and Pearson 47% of the company. Penguin's trade publishing activity continued to include DK under the newly formed Penguin Random House.
In December 2019, Bertelsmann agreed to acquire Pearson's 25% in Penguin Random House, and therefore DK, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann.
DK publishes a range of titles internationally for adults and children. Most of the company's books are produced by teams of editors and designers who work with freelance writers and illustrators. Some are endorsed by "imprimaturs": well-known and respected organisations such as the British Medical Association, the Royal Horticultural Society and the British Red Cross.
BradyGames was a publishing company in the United States operating as a DK imprint, which specializes in video game strategy guides, covering multiple video game platforms. It published its first strategy guide in November 1993 as a division of MacMillan Computer Publishing. In 1998, Simon & Schuster (which acquired Macmillan in 1994) divested BradyGames as part of its educational division to Pearson plc. BradyGames has grown to publish roughly 90-100 guides per year. On 1 June 2015, BradyGames merged with Prima Games, and future strategy guides made by the publishing company were published under the Prima Games label, which was sold to Asteri Holdings in 2019.
DK commenced publishing books aimed at teens with the release of Heads Up Psychology in 2014 and further titles following every two to three months.