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Thread: [Publishing] Who and What are The Big Five?

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    [Publishing] Who and What are The Big Five?

    Who or What were The Big Six (Now the Big 5)


    The "Big Six" refers to North America's six largest publishers. These are all multi-nationals, not just U.S., so their influence does stretch beyond the U.S. and Canada.

    As of July 1, 2013 two of the Big Six, Random House and Penguin Group merged, becoming Penguin Random House, and leaving us with the Big 5.

    Each of these publishers owns a bunch of other companies, not always in publishing. The following lists them in no particular order, and describes their various divisions. Because we often see books that are a part of a special imprint from a single publisher without realizing it's an imprint rather than a self-contained publisher, I'm listing imprints as well as actual publishing companies.

    Macmillan should be Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany; and owns a bunch of publishers (Holt, St. Martins, Tor, Farrar, Macmillan, Palgrave Macmillan, Strauss and Giroux, etc.)—and Scientific American.

    Harper Collins is owned by News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch), and includes the venerable British publisher William Collins and Sons, and Zondervan.

    Hachette Book Group is owned by Hachette Livre, in France, itself owned by Lagardère, who owns, well lots of media companies and other stuff too. Publishers include the entire Time Warner Book Group.

    In 2012 Random House and The Penguin Group merged, and became Penguin Random House.

    Penguin Group is really Pearson PLC. They own another venerable British publisher, Longman, Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Addison-Wesley, Allyn and Bacon, Financial Times, half of The Ecconomist, and (via Penguin) Putnam, Berkley, Viking, Dorling Kindersley, Puffin and Ladybird. Random House Inc. Random House is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, a German media company. Random House itself owns or controls Crown Publishing Group, Knopf, Doubleday, Everyman's Library, Anchor, Nan A. Talese, Pantheon Books, Schocken Books, Vintage, all of the Random House Group publishers, so Ballantine Books, Bantam, Delacorte, Dell, Del Rey, The Dial Press, Spectra, Spiegel & Grau, Fodor's etc.

    Simon and Schuster is Scribner, Simon and Schuster, Folger Shakespeare, Pocket, Touchstone, Atheneum, and all the various Simon and Schuster international groups.

    Please keep in mind that there are hundreds of small independent presses, many with good distribution and fine reputations, as well as several larger household name independent publishers, like Scholastic and W. W. Norton.

    Here's a useful interactive chart of the Big Five publishers and their various imprints.

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