I have heard (but have never been able to confirm) that many of the ordinary publishing companies that are big and well-known today and have been around for many decades originally started with someone who wanted to publish their own book, or their own book and a few books of their friends.

In other words, the rumor says that many big, famous traditional publishers started out, way back in the mists of time, as conventional self-publishers, and quickly switched to being ordinary publishers.

Is this true? I've found it hard to research this, partly because the larger, older publishing houses were started so very long ago that I can't find much detail about their very early years, or find out which book was their very first published book.

I kind of suspect that it is just one of the myths that circulate about self-publishing, but I could be wrong.

On a similar topic, do any of the conventional self-publishers here aspire to someday becoming small-press conventional publishers?