Grolier is one of the largest U.S. 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).
Grolier is an educational publishing company known for its presence in school libraries. It has a strong presence among parents of children under six years old, the target of Grolier's direct mail-to-the-home business.
In June 2000 Grolier became part of Scholastic Corporation, which now maintains Grolier Online.
Walter M. Jackson (1863–1923) was the founder of encyclopedia publisher Grolier, Inc., and he was 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.
Jackson had founded the Grolier Society, which specialized in making 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 named after a well-known French bibliophile, Jean Grolier de Servières.
Grolier, Inc. subsequently became a large publisher of general encyclopaedias, including The Book of Knowledge (1910), The New Book of Knowledge (1966), the Encyclopedia Americana (1945), the Academic American Encyclopedia (1980), The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1985 CD-ROM), and the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1995).
Grolier had a US$100 million international business, primarily located in the UK, Canada and Asia. It had 1999 revenues of $450 million and earnings of approximately $45 million, with $4.5 million in Internet revenues.
By the late 1970s, Grolier has moved its operations to Danbury, Connecticut. In 1988 Grolier was purchased by the French media company Hachette, which owned a well-known French-language encyclopedia, the Hachette Encyclopedia. Hachette was later absorbed by the French conglomerate the Lagardère Group. In 1996, Grolier acquired the Chicago-based Children's Press.
Grolier was then purchased by Scholastic for US$400 million in 2000. The new owners projected a 30% increase in operating income, although historically Grolier had experienced earnings of 7% to 8% on income.
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. 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 Grolier Online. The company exists as Grolier Incorporated.
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 1996, 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 was founded in 1986 by Grolier as a children's publisher. Hachette, which acquired Grolier in 1988, sold Grolier to Scholastic Corporation in 2000, along with 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. 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). The 1990 edition was the first to feature pictures, and the 1992 edition was the first to deliver video and sound. The last CD-ROM edition published was the 2003 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.
In 1982 Grolier formed a subsidiary called Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc. Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc was renamed Grolier Interactive Inc in February 1996. They made electronic encyclopedias for the Amiga and video games for DOS, Windows, Macintosh and the PlayStation.
|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|
|Perfect Assassin||Windows, PlayStation||November 1997|
|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 stopped releasing video games when Grolier was bought by Scholastic.