Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Top Publishers In The World Are Foreign-Owned

Recently Publishers Weekly released its annual ranking of the world’s largest book publishing companies and only one – McGraw Hill Education, a division of Apollo Global Management – made the list as a US-based company in the top 10.  In fact, only six companies in the top 50 were solely American, while another two were partially American-owned.

Of course, many major publishers have a strong American presence, including the German-based Bertelsmann AG, which owns Penguin Random House. Scholastic, Harper Collins, Wiley, Simon & Schuster, and the Perseus Group make up the other All-American publishers.  Reed Elsevier and Cengage Learning Holdings II LP, are partially American-owned companies.

China has the 6th, 7th, 15th, and 21st biggest publishers on the planet.  Given their population size, you’d expect them to be even bigger, but they are growing.  Germany has two of the top 10 publishers – and another five in the top 50.  The UK has four big publishers, including Pearson, the world’s largest with $7.072 billion in annual revenue, and partially owns the No. 3-ranked Reed Elsevier.  Japan, though it has none of the top 22, has six in the top 50.  France has five in the top 50, including No. 8 Hachette Livre.

I’m not sure why the Big 5 – Penguin Random House, S&S, Macmillan, Harper Collins, and Hachette – are called that when they are neither the top 5 in the world or as American companies.  Penguin Random House ranks fifth globally, Hachette is eighth, Scholastic 11th, Wiley 12th, Harper Collins 16th, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 17th, and Simon & Schuster 30th.

Surprisingly, several university presses are the largest book publishers in the world.  Oxford University Press ranks 19th and Cambridge University Press was 38th – both from the UK.

The big are getting bigger. Revenue collectively at the top 10 publishers accounted for 54% of all revenue generated by the 57 companies ranked on the list, up from 53% a year ago.

Interestingly, Amazon was not on the list, but one day the publisher/retailer will be a major player.  If you factor in Create Space, its POD arm, and its many imprints, Amazon is in a position to grow fast.

Wherever books are published, printed, sold, or read, Americans will always be a leading force in the book industry.  But the country that produces so much content should still be the biggest book publishing nation. We need to catch up to UK, China, and France.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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