Like many industries, book publishing is dominated by a small number of companies, known as the “Big Five” publishing houses. These five publishers hold the lion’s share in the book manufacturing and selling industry and with so many resources at their disposal, they have the ability to make or break a book release. Despite churning out an innumerable number of releases each year, many writers find it difficult to make connections with these big five publishing houses, resulting in more and more authors deciding to self-publish instead.
However, the idea of five big publishing houses has recently lost steam after Penguin Random House purchased another large publisher, Simon & Schuster, in a polarizing merger in 2020. Still, Simon & Schuster operates as its own publishing house, despite being owned by Penguin Random house.
Here are the Big Five publishing houses and their notable imprints, in no particular order:
An absolutely massive publishing house, Penguin Random House dates back to the 1800s and now has more than 300 brands and independent imprints across the world under its umbrella. With locations in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Asia, and Africa, Penguin Random House more than earns its spot on our list of the Big Five publishing houses. You can find their locations and contact information here.
Founded in 1826, Hachette Livre (or Hachette Book Group) is a French publishing house that has acquired a number of well-known imprints, such as Little, Brown and Company, Mulholland Books, and Grand Central Publishing. Though Hachette Livre has locations all over the globe, they mainly operate in French, English, and Spanish language books and audiobooks. You can find contact information for Hachette Livre’s many offshoots here
First established in 1817, HarperCollins cemented itself as a major publishing player after a number of mergers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now, HarperCollins is one of the most prolific English language publishers, perhaps most well-known for its romance genre imprints, Harlequin and Avon Books, as well as its divisions for children and teenagers. Learn more about the many HarperCollins locations or contact this Big Five publisher here.
Though this Big Five publishing house was acquired by Penguin Random House for an estimated $2 billion, Simon & Schuster is still an extremely successful publisher in its own right. With international locations that serve the world’s citizens, Simon & Schuster releases thousands of books across genres every year. Find out more about Simon & Schuster here.
Last on our list of the Big Five publishers, Macmillan was founded in 1843 and strengthened in 2015 after a number of mergers. With imprints like Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, St. Martin’s Press, and Tor, Macmillan Publishers release books in every genre. You can find contact information for Macmillan Publishers and its many imprints here.
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