The company started back in 1926 when Les Kelley, a car dealer in Los Angeles, began creating a list of used vehicles and the amount of money he was willing to pay for them. Soon, other auto dealers and banks trusted his judgment as an accurate reflection of current values and requested the list for their own use. Kelley recognized that he had a unique business opportunity, and thus the Kelley Blue Book Official Guide was born. He named the publication Blue Book after the Social Register, because it meant that one would find valuable information inside.
Kelley grew his dealership and publication businesses, and soon brought his brother Buster in to help him manage the dealership. The Kelley brothers were known for their sales and marketing strategies and for having the first dealership in the nation to advertise on television. In 1962, Kelley left the business of selling cars to focus solely on publishing books.
In the 1960s, Kelley Blue Book started producing a variety of both new- and used-vehicle information publications. Kelley Blue Book began tracking new-car pricing in 1966, when it published the New Car Price Manual, in which used-car values were adjusted for mileage. For the next 30 years, Kelley Blue Book remained solely an industry publication producing new- and used-vehicle value guides for the automotive and finance industries, until it published the first consumer edition of the guide in 1993.
The company launched kbb.com in 1995, initially only providing new-vehicle pricing to consumers, before adding free information on both new and used vehicles to help both consumers and dealers facilitate their automotive transactions. Kbb.com has been the most-visited automotive Web site for eight consecutive years, as reported by J.D. Power and Associates.
In 2004, Kelley Blue Book acquired CDMdata Inc., which provides products and services that help auto dealers take pictures of vehicles, add detailed descriptions, and upload them to the Web for car shoppers to view.
Today, Kelley Blue Book helps to facilitate all aspects of the vehicle transaction by providing pricing information (including dealer invoice price, MSRP, and New Car Blue Book transaction values), vehicle reviews, safety ratings, advice, dealer leads, and comparison tools on kbb.com.