According to the 2016 sales figures released by Nielsen Book Scan, which purports to track about 80% of all book sales based on the number of units (books) sold, the top publisher is Penguin Random House. Not a surprise. The top five spots remain the Big 5: (2) Harper Collins (3) Simon & Schuster, (4) Hachette Book Group, and (5) Macmillan. What was a surprise was the rise of children’s book publishers.
Occupying the sixth spot is Scholastic, followed at No. 7 by Disney Publishing Worldwide.
Of course, the average consumer is clueless as to which publisher publishes which authors or what books. It gets further complicated with the scores of imprints floating around. Will book publishers ever brand themselves?
Houghton & Mifflin Harcourt ranked 8th, then Workman, and Sourcebooks. Sterling, owned by Barnes & Noble, is 11th and business trade publisher, John Wiley and Sons ranked 12th.
This list does not reflect profitability. In fact, some of those publishers lost revenue in 2016. Simon & Schuster for instance, though not reporting a loss, noted revenue declined by nearly 2%, falling to 767 million bucks.
Nor does this list include other things that make a publisher successful, profitable, and sizeable, including:
· Rights that were sold, such as a foreign or film, which can bring in tens of millions of dollars.
· Sales from special collector of gift editions that could sell for $100 or more.
· Unit sales beyond what Nielsen can capture.
· The sale of spin-off content, such as dolls, games and toys.
But the list gives a decent snapshot as to where publishing stands. If history is of any use, look for any of the Big 5 to seek to acquire some of the Top 20 publishers, such as indies Kensington, Chronicle Books, or W.W. Norton.
What the list also doesn’t show or compare is how the publishers rank against self-publishers, such as iUniverse, Smashwords, Createspace, or others. There are also a lot of hybrid publishers and publisher/distributors like Greenleaf Book Group, Morgan James, and others that are moving plenty of units.
It’s nice to see a publisher like Abrams, ranked at 13, make the list. They do great art books – as well as cookbooks and children’s books.
It’s also interesting to see how forceful religious book publishing is. No. 19 B&H Publishing and No. 20 Tyndale House both specialize in the power of faith.
Literary agents, authors, and publishers certainly pay attention to the rankings. It’s a matter of pride and economics. It may also serve as a road map for mergers and acquisitions.
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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 email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs
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