Magazine article Insight on the News

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage; Diabetes for Dummies; the Complete Idiot's Guide to the Impeachment of the President; Ebay for Dummies; the Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex; Pregnancy for Dummies

Magazine article Insight on the News

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage; Diabetes for Dummies; the Complete Idiot's Guide to the Impeachment of the President; Ebay for Dummies; the Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex; Pregnancy for Dummies

Article excerpt

From auto repair to amazing sex, it's all explained in these `references for the rest of us.'

Dummies and idiots rule! Thanks to several hundred breezy how-to guides to modern life, there no longer is a stigma attached to being a bit unsure. Indeed, dummyhood and idiocy have been packaged into something cute -- even appealing.

Witness herein: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage; Diabetes for Dummies; The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Impeachment of the President; Ebay for Dummies; The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex; Pregnancy for Dummies.

These books celebrate self-help, a "reference for the rest of us," says John Kilcullen, founder of IDG Books, which publishes the infamous Dummies guides. "We're geared to those who are confident enough to admit they don't know much about something," counters Vicki Skelton of Macmillan Publishing, which offers the rival Complete Idiot's Guide series. Both cast dummies in the role of virtuous novices bent on improvement rather than, well, plain old dummies. Well, duh!

Few topics escape their light-hearted predigestion -- computer science, the Internet, history, philosophy, psychology, ethics, relationships, careers, finances, food, health and culture. The two publishing companies have raised such easygoing fare to a high art, vying for the shortened American attention span and aspiring to be as familiar as, say, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

California-based IDG Books has offered the brilliant yellow Dummies series since 1991, when Kilcullen, then employed by another publisher, decided to rid people of their computer anxiety "by poking fun at it with books that are insightful and educational." The concept worked: IDG now offers more than 450 titles in 31 languages in 40 countries. The company has purchased Cliff's Notes, the old student standby, and maintains a Website (www. …

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