Parent companyScholastic
Founded1909; 115 years ago (1909)
FounderWalter M. Jackson
Defunct2000; 24 years ago (2000)
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationDanbury, Connecticut
Publication typesBooks

Grolier was one of the largest American publishers of general encyclopedias, including The Book of Knowledge (1910), The New Book of Knowledge (1966), The New Book of Popular Science (1972), Encyclopedia Americana (1945), Academic American Encyclopedia (1980), and numerous incarnations of a CD-ROM encyclopedia (1986–2003).

As an educational publishing company[1] Grolier was known for its presence in school libraries and its in-home encyclopedia sales. It also had a strong presence among parents of children under six years old, the market for Grolier's direct mail-to-the-home business.[2]

In June 2000, Grolier became part of Scholastic Corporation, which now maintains Scholastic GO, formerly Grolier Online.


This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2020)

The company that became encyclopedia publisher Grolier Incorporated was founded by Walter M. Jackson (1863–1923) as the Grolier Society.[3][4] Jackson had been the partner of Horace Everett Hooper in publishing the 10th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica and in developing its 11th edition. He split with Hooper in 1908–1909 in a nasty legal fight after failing to wrest control of the Britannica from Hooper.[5]

The Grolier Society specialized in publishing extra-fine editions of classics and rare literature. The Society was named after the Grolier Club, which had been founded in 1884 to advance the arts involved in making books and which was itself named after a well-known French bibliophile, Jean Grolier de Servières.

In 1910, Jackson purchased the rights to publish the British The Children's Encyclopædia under the name The Book of Knowledge.

In 1936, the company was acquired by its senior sales executive, Fred P. Murphy, who had joined the firm in 1912.[6] Grolier's common stock began trading publicly in 1954, and it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1965.[7]

Under Murphy's leadership, by the mid-1940s, Grolier became one of the largest publishers of general encyclopedias, including The Book of Knowledge and the Encyclopedia Americana.[8] Grolier also published the Grolier Encyclopedia (based on the Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopedia and the Doubleday's Encyclopedia) (1941),[9] American Peoples Encyclopedia (1962),[10] The New Book of Knowledge (1966), the Academic American Encyclopedia (1980), The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1985 CD-ROM), and the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1995).

Grolier conducted its encyclopedia sales through subsidiaries Americana Corporation; The Grolier Society; Inc.; R.H. Hinckley Company; Spencer International Press, Inc.; and The Richards Company, Inc. Each subsidiary distributed publications as designated by Grolier.[11] Murphy encouraged a productive rivalry among the subsidiaries, giving their executives broad authority and profit-sharing incentives.

In 1959, Murphy hired John G. Ryan, formerly president of competitor P.F. Collier & Son, as president of The Richards Company. By 1968, Richards' sales, distributing the American Peoples Encyclopedia, exceeded that of the other Grolier encyclopedia subsidiaries.[12]

In 1968, Grolier's annual sales were over $181 million,[13] and the company held a 30 percent market share as the leading publisher of encyclopedias in the United States.[14] Grolier also established a successful mail order subsidiary. [15]

In the 1970s, Grolier declined financially. Fred Murphy retired, and the company merged the sales subsidiaries into what became a less profitable unitary sales force. Grolier also made ill-fated investments in non-publishing ventures, including mobile homes.[16] In 1976, Grolier lost $77 million on sales of $247 million. It threatened to file for bankruptcy if its creditors did not agree to restructure its debts.[17] In the 1980s, with its mail order business expanding, Grolier returned to profitability. [18][19]

On August 8, 1986, Grolier announced a joint venture partnership with Hal Roach Studios and Robert Halmi, Inc. (both of these companies were later known as Qintex Entertainment) to set up a joint venture, Grolier Home Video, which was designed to set up adaptations of the Grolier book properties.[20]

In 1988 Grolier was purchased by the French media company Hachette, which owned a well-known French-language encyclopedia, the Hachette Encyclopedia.[21] The sale price was $450 million.[22] Hachette was later absorbed by the French conglomerate, the Lagardère Group.[22]

In 1995, Grolier acquired the Chicago-based Children's Press.[23]

In 1999, Grolier had revenues of $450 million and earnings of approximately $45 million, with $4.5 million in Internet revenues. It had a US$100 million international business, primarily located in the UK, Canada and Asia.

Grolier was purchased by Scholastic for US$400 million in June 2000.[24] The new owners projected a 30% increase in operating income, although historically Grolier had experienced earnings of 7% to 8% on income.[25]

Staff reductions as a means of controlling costs followed soon thereafter, even while an effort was made to augment the sales force. Cuts occurred every year between 2000 and 2007, leaving a much-depleted work force to carry out the duties of maintaining a large encyclopedia database.[26] Scholastic, which specializes in works for the K-8 market (Kindergarten-to-8th grade), has sought to position the Encyclopedia Americana as a reference resource for schools. It remains to be seen whether that strategy, applied to a venerable upper-level (even adult-level) publication, will work in the long run.

The name Grolier is retained as the Scholastic website Scholastic GO. The company exists as Grolier Incorporated.


Franklin Watts

"Franklin Watts" redirects here. The UK branch of Franklin Watts is maintained by Hachette UK, and is not a part of the sale to Scholastic Corporation.

Franklin Watts Inc. was formed in 1942. The company was sold to Grolier in 1957. When the namesake founder retired in 1967, he moved to London to start Franklin Watts Ltd. in 1969. Franklin Watts retired again in 1976.

When Grolier acquired Children's Press in 1995, much of Franklin Watts were published under the Children's Press imprint. When Hachette sold Grolier to Scholastic Corporation in 2000, Scholastic took U.S. rights to Children's Press and Franklin Watts as well. The UK branch exists today as an imprint of Hachette UK's Hachette Children's Books.

Orchard Books

"Orchard Books" redirects here. The UK branch of Orchard Books is maintained by Hachette UK, and is not a part of the sale to Scholastic Corporation.

Orchard Books was founded in 1986 by Grolier as a children's publisher. When editors Neal Porter, Richard Jackson and Melanie Kroupa left Orchard for DK in 1996, Grolier sued the trio.[27] DK and Grolier settled the lawsuit.[28] When Hachette sold Grolier to Scholastic Corporation in 2000, they included the U.S. branch of Orchard Books while retaining the UK branch.


Grolier's first CD-ROM publication was the text-only Academic American Encyclopedia on CD-ROM in 1985, and was one of the first commercial CD-ROM titles. The text was based on the Academic American Encyclopedia, which comprised 30,000 entries and 9 million words.[29] The editions were updated quarterly—a rate which outpaced the print edition. Eventually, the CD-ROM edition was quite different from the print edition.

Grolier published the encyclopedia with numerous name variations: The Electronic Encyclopedia (1986), The Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1987), The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1988–91), The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1992).[30] The 1990 edition was the first to feature pictures, and the 1992 edition was the first to deliver video and sound.[30] The last CD-ROM edition published was the 2003 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.

Video games

In 1982, Grolier formed a subsidiary called Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc. Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc. was renamed Grolier Interactive Inc. in February 1996.[31] They made electronic encyclopedias for the Amiga and video games for DOS, Windows, Macintosh and the PlayStation.

The video games they released include:[32][33][34]

Name Platform(s) Release date
Wyatt Earp's Old West Windows, Macintosh October 1994
Golden Gate Killer Windows, Macintosh 1995
Terror TRAX: Track Of The Vampire DOS 1995
SFPD Homicide Case File: The Body in the Bay Windows 1995
Greg Norman Ultimate Challenge Golf Windows January 31, 1996
Time Warriors DOS, Windows 1997
Banzai Bug Windows 1997
Perfect Assassin Windows, PlayStation November 1997
Xenocracy Windows, PlayStation 1998
V2000 (Also known as Virus 2000) Windows, PlayStation October 1998
Asghan: The Dragon Slayer Windows December 1998
Tank Racer Windows, PlayStation March 26, 1999

Grolier Interactive ceased releasing video games when Grolier was bought by Scholastic.

See also


  1. ^ "Grolier Publishing Company". JacketFlap. October 23, 2008.
  2. ^ "Acquisition activity in the education market heats up", Heller Report on Educational Technology Markets, Monday, May 1, 2000 (archived 2007).
  3. ^ Pellegrino Soares, Gabriela (2019). "The Book of Knowledge between the 'Old' and the 'New' World: history of an encyclopedia". Transatlantic Cultures. ISSN 0000-0000.
  4. ^ Valera, Juan; Pelayo, Marcelino Menéndez (2009). Menéndez Pelayo y Juan Valera en el Diccionario Enciclopédico Hispano-Americano (in Spanish). Ed. Universidad de Cantabria. p. 13. ISBN 978-84-8102-543-9.
  5. ^ Lipartito, Kenneth; Sicilia, David B. (2004). Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-19-925189-6.
  6. ^ Goodman Jr., George (29 October 1979). ""FRED P. MURPHY, 90, EX‐CHIEF OF GROLIER"". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  7. ^ Egelhof, Joseph (7 December 1970). "Sales Force Finds Rising Buying Spirit". Chicago Tribune. p. 81. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  8. ^ Dawson, Sam (20 July 1947). ""More Americans Trying To Improve Minds At Home"". The News and Observer. p. 37. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  9. ^ Khan, Masood Ali (2003). The Principles and Practice of Library Science. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. p. 278. ISBN 81-85431-68-X.
  10. ^ Internet Archive (28 September 2020). The American peoples encyclopedia. Grolier. OL 5821523M. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  11. ^ Federal Trade Commission ftc_volume_decision_91_january_-_june_1978pages_315-503.pdf page 362
  12. ^ Federal Trade Commission ftc_volume_decision_91_january_-_june_1978pages_315-503.pdf page 338.
  13. ^ Goodman Jr., George (29 October 1979). ""FRED P. MURPHY, 90, EX‐CHIEF OF GROLIER"". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  14. ^ Egelhof, Joseph (7 December 1970). "Sales Force Finds Rising Buying Spirit". Chicago Tribune. p. 81. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  15. ^ "3.6 Million Customers Served by Danbury Book Enterprise". The Bridgeport Post. 20 February 1972. p. 49. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  16. ^ "A Puzzler for Encyclopedia Maker". Newsday (Suffolk Edition) (Melville, New York). 14 August 1969. p. 87. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Grolier Plan on Finances Wins Approval". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut). 4 December 1977. p. 127. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  18. ^ "Firm Plans Direct Sale of Book of Knowledge". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut). 13 January 1978. p. 34. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Corporate Facts: Grolier, Inc". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut). 5 January 1987. p. 54. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Grolier To Test Homevideo Waters With Roach Studios, Halmi Prods". Variety. 1986-08-06. p. 35.
  21. ^ ""Grolier Agrees to Be Acquired by French Firm"". Los Angeles Times. 11 April 1988. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  22. ^ a b Gershon, Richard A. (2013-10-18). The Transnational Media Corporation: Global Messages and Free Market Competition. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-68551-4.
  23. ^ Storch, Charles. "DEAL HAS REGENSTEINER CHANGING HANDS-TWICE". Retrieved 2020-04-05.
  24. ^ Pasiuk, Laurie (2006). Vault Guide to the Top Media & Entertainment Employers. New York: Vault Inc. p. 245. ISBN 1-58131-337-3.
  25. ^ "French Plan to Sell Grolier,", 11/29/1999; "Scholastic to Acquire Grolier," press release, Scholastic Inc., 4/13/2000.
  26. ^ "Scholastic Has Record Year and Begins Grolier Integration,", 7/24/00; "Scholastic Sales Surge Continues,", 1/01/01; "Robinson: Scholastic's Business Remains Strong,", 10/01/01; "Sales Dip, Earnings Rise at Scholastic,", 7/29/02; "Scholastic Cuts 400 from Global Workforce,", 6/02/03; "Scholastic Takes a Charge,", 7/19/04; "Scholastic Cuts 30 Spots in Library Unit,", 6/02/05; "Scholastic to Cut Costs as Profits Fall,", 12/16/05; "Weak Results Prompt Closings, Layoffs at Scholastic,", 3/23/06.
  27. ^ Mansnerus, Laura (25 November 1996). "Not the Usual Farewell: Editors Quit and Are Sued". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "Grolier, DK Settle $8 Million Tampering Suit".
  29. ^ Lewis, Peter H. "PERSONAL COMPUTERS; CD-ROM for the Common Man," The New York Times, November 28, 1989.
  30. ^ a b Kister's Best Encyclopedias, 1994.
  31. ^ MobyGames
  32. ^ GameSpot
  33. ^ "GI's Game Page". Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  34. ^ MobyGames/