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Friday, 31 March, 2000, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Pearson buys Dorling Kindersley

The lack of demand for Star Wars book hit DK hard
International media group Pearson has bought British publisher Dorling Kindersley ( DK) for 311m.

DK was hit in 1999 by its decision to invest heavily in Star Wars books, which didn't sell as well as expected.

DK is famous for its pop-up and educational books and CD-ROMs and Pearson expects to save money by combining it with its Penguin books division.

Pearson is offering 430 pence per DK share.

DK brand to stay alive

The DK brand will continue but its operations will be combined with the Penguin group.

"We aim to invest in its brand and its content so that it has a great future..." Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson said.

DK saw its profits plunge in the second half of last year after spectacularly over-estimating demand for Star Wars books.

Earlier this year, DK said it had sold just three million of the thirteen million Star Wars books it had printed.

The unsold books caused a 3m loss on operations and a 14m write-off against the unsold stock.

The Star Wars fiasco prompted the departure of chief executive James Middlehurst.

It also led to the announcement that 40 full time and 100 temporary jobs would be axed.

The company hoped to be able to shift more Star Wars books later this year with the help of forthcoming releases of Star Wars videos.

DK posted profits of 25m for the six months to 31 December last year, compared with a profit of 4.7m the previous year.

Internet access

DK has an extensive library of material stored in digital form.

Pearson plans to use the content to boost its planned education internet portal.

Last year, DK led the way in online publishing, when it decided to offer free access to its books, by putting them all online.

Net users are now able to read any title by Dorling Kindersley instead of buying them in bookshops.

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24 Jan 00 | Business
Star Wars book flop hits DK
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