Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation

De Gruyter in a nutshell

Back to overview

Steeped in the history of Berlin, De Gruyter’s roots go back to Frederick the Great and the Königliche Realschule’s bookstore. In 1749, the Prussian King granted the bookstore royal privilege to print and publish books. The bookstore’s publishing arm later became the leading publisher of the German Romantic Literary movement after a young publisher Georg Reimer took it over in 1801. Georg Reimer published the most important German philosophers and writers of his time, including Heinrich von Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ludwig Tieck, and Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm.

In 1894, Walter de Gruyter sent an anonymous advertisement to the book industry trade journal Börsenblatt: “Wealthy business man, age 31, married, PhD (German Literature) seeks contacts that could lead to active co-ownership or takeover of a reputable publishing establishment.

A year later, he was taken on by the publishing house Georg Reimer as an unsalaried clerk. A prudent and ambitious businessman, Walter de Gruyter worked his way up the publishing ladder, and in 1919, after becoming the sole proprietor of the business, he realised his dream by successfully purchasing and merging five publishing houses into one: the Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger Walter de Gruyter & Co. (Union of Scientific Publishers Walter de Gruyter & Co.)

The four companies to come on board were the well-known publisher of classical German literature Georg Joachim Göschen, the renowned publisher of law literature J. Guttentag Verlagsbuchhandlung, the natural sciences, medicine and mathematics publisher Veit & Comp. and the humanities and social sciences publisher Karl J. Trübner. After Walter de Gruyter’s death in 1923, the company name was changed to Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. Since 2011 the company has been known as Walter de Gruyter GmbH.

In addition to Berlin, De Gruyter now has offices in Boston, Beijing, Basel, Warsaw, Munich and Vienna, and has acquired several other publishing houses along the way. In 1976, De Gruyter acquired the Dutch publishing company Mouton – one of the world’s leading publishers in linguistics and communication science.

Recent strategic acquisitions include the purchase of Oldenbourg in 2013. With a publishing history of 150 years, Oldenbourg is an acclaimed publisher of history, economics and engineering titles. In the same year, De Gruyter also took on the publisher Akademie-Verlag. Founded in Berlin in 1946, Akademie-Verlag publishes a range of noted works including the Marx and Engels Critical Edition (MEGA).

Birkhäuser, one of the world’s leading publishers of architecture, design and landscape architecture was acquired by De Gruyter in 2012. Most recently in January 2018, De Gruyter acquired the esteemed art publisher Deutscher Kunstverlag (DKV).

Carsten Buhr is De Gruyter’s Managing Director. De Gruyter includes the imprints Birkhäuser, De Gruyter Akademie Forschung, De Gruyter Mouton, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, De Gruyter Saur, De|G PRESS, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Düsseldorf University Press as well as the publishing services provider Sciendo.