From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Dover Publications is an American publisher founded in 1941 by Hayward Cirker and his wife, Blanche. It publishes primarily reissues, books no longer published by their original publishers — often, but not always, books in the public domain. Many of these books are of particular historical interest or scarce, and are therefore expensive in earlier editions.
It is well known for its reprints of classic works of literature, classical sheet music and of public-domain images from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dover also publishes an extensive collection of mathematical, scientific and engineering texts as well as numerous books in niche interests such as the history of science or the history of furniture design and wood working. They have an extensive line of clip art collections (on CD-ROM, of late), coloring books, stencils, temporary tattoo sets, and paper dolls.
Most Dover reprints are facsimiles by photo process of the originals, retaining the original pagination and typeset, sometimes with a new introduction. Dover will usually add new and more colorful cover art to its paper-bound editions. They re-title some books from the originals, to make them more in line with modern usage and categorization. For example, the book Woodward's National Architect was retitled by Dover as A Victorian Housebuilder's Guide.
The Cirkers started the business selling remaindered textbooks by mail. The company published its first book, Tables of Functions with Formulas and Curves, when the German copyright was voided by the United States as a result of World War II. The book was an unexpected success and established the Dover business model of publishing esoteric works at a low price. One of Dover's best sellers was Albert Einstein's The Principle of Relativity, which Einstein reluctantly agreed to republish despite his concerns that it was out-dated.
Dover was influential in transforming the paperback book market. In 1951 they issued some of the earliest standard-sized paperbacks, a format that became known as a trade paperback. Since the 1960s, the vast majority of Dover's line has been paper-bound books of various sizes.
For a time, Dover also published a catalogue of LP phonograph records, at least some, such as selected recordings of Schubert solo and chamber works featuring pianist Friedrich Wührer, being reissues of earlier monaural releases from other labels. Noteworthy among Dover's original issues was an extensive series documenting pianist Beveridge Webster in literature ranging from Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata to the second piano sonata by Roger Sessions. Dover's foray into recordings, however, was not as successful as its core business of book republication, and the company eventually abandoned it.
Starting in the 1990s Dover has published a specialized line of low-cost reprints of public domain literature known as "Dover Thrift Editions", which are generally priced at US$5 or less. They also have several lines of foreign language books.
Hayward Cirker died in 2000 at the age of 82. In the same year Dover Publications was acquired by Courier Corporation.