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The World’s 57 Largest Book Publishers

29 June 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

The growing complexity of international book publishing is reflected in this year’s ranking of the world’s largest publishers. While Pearson once again maintained its top spot as the world’s biggest publisher, currency fluctuations, consolidations, the digital transition, and the emergence of China all played a part in altering the makeup of the companies that hit the Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly annual global ranking.

Two Chinese publishers made the top 10 list for 2014; it’s possible they would have hit the list earlier if information had been available. Phoenix Publishing and Media Company is the sixth largest publisher on the ranking this year, with sales of $2.84 billion, an increase of 16% over 2013, while China South Publishing & Media Group is in the seventh spot with revenue of $2.58 billion, an increase of 31%. In all, four Chinese publishers qualified for the ranking in 2014, by virtue of meeting the requirement of having $200 million in sales as well being willing and able to document their figures.

The greater financial transparency by China’s publishing giants is in keeping with their goal of becoming a much more important factor in the international publishing scene.

. . . .

While Phoenix Publishing and China South shook up the top 10 ranking for 2014, the top four publishers are all familiar names (although Reed Elsevier has rebranded itself as Relx Group) and specialize in the education and professional markets. The ability of professional and educational publishers to remain so large is due to a combination of acquisitions and their expansion of the digital delivery of information, the revenue of which is included in compiling the ranking. Revenue from the top 10 publishers combined accounted for 54% of all revenue generated by the 57 companies on the list, up from 53% in 2013.

Penguin Random House remained the world’s largest trade publisher last year. Sales rose 25% over 2013, to more than $4 billion, due primarily to the Penguin merger (completed July 1, 2013) and the purchase of Santillana Ediciones Generales (completed July 1, 2014). (The 2013 results do not include sales for Penguin for the first six months of that year.)

. . . .

Rank 2015 Rank 2014 Publishing Group or Division Parent Company Parent Country 2014 Revenue in $M 2013 Revenue in $M
1 1 Pearson Pearson PLC UK $7,072 $7,801
2 3 ThomsonReuters The Woodbridge Company Ltd. Canada $5,760 $5,576
3 2 RELX Group Reed Elsevier PLC & Reed Elsevier NV UK/NL/US $5,362 $6,093
4 4 Wolters Kluwer Wolters Kluwer NL $4,455 $4,920
5 5 Penguin Random House Bertelsmann AG Germany $4,046 $3,664*
6 NEW Phoenix Publishing and Media Company Phoenix Publishing and Media Company China $2,840 $2,781
7 NEW China South Publishing & Media Group Co., Ltd China South Publishing & Media Group Co., Ltd China $2,579 $2,237
8 6 Hachette Livre Lagardere France $2,439 $2,851
9 10 McGraw-Hill Education Apollo Global Management LLC US $2,190 (Est.) $1,992
10 7 Holtzbrinck Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck Germany $2,000 $2,222

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Eric for the tip.

For those who are not into revenue numbers, Apple had revenue of over $182 billion in 2014 and Amazon’s revenue was $89 billion.

Big Publishing

14 Comments to “The World’s 57 Largest Book Publishers”

  1. I got an evil thought while reading this post. Imagine the furor that would happen if Amazon decided it wanted to buy a big print publishing house.

    • snort!

    • Smart Debut Author

      While they were at it, they could probably pick up a couple telegraph offices, typewriter companies, and rotary-phone manufacturers, too. 😉

      • What SDA said. Zon is too busy prepping their next rocket launch and refinine their drone OS’s. I don’t think they have either the time or inclination to organize and data input a BPH’s warehouse(s) of randomly coallated paper records. Would be interesting if they disclosed what they found about royalty payments tho.

      • Don’t forget the buggy whip company.
        The few remaining are very profitable.

      • Just of note: if your reference to telegraph companies includes Western Union, it is a very big and vibrant company. Why? not from selling dot-dash-dot from one rail stop to another. But from the wiring of international money transfers, as in immigrants sending money home, etc., for substantial % of transfer fees.

        Think Money Tree but international and the transactions themselves are low-risk from the company’s perspective.

        A curious world we live in.

        😮 )

  2. What? The Big 6 is really the Big 57? Man, there goes that argument 😉


  3. Jonathan Mattson

    Sure is sad to see the money that is in educational publishing. And of course that doesn’t include all the money spent on individuals buying USED textbooks either.

    • That market is ripe for disruption via open source texts.
      At some point soon universities will realize they don’t need to settle for just the kickbacks they get from the publishers; they can cook up their own texts and move up the food chain.

      • Two University Presses are on the list already- Oxford and Cambridge- and Oxford is bigger than Big5 Simon and Shuster. Just imagine if they start doing all their own textbooks too, like Felix suggests.

      • RealityObserver

        I note that McGraw-Hill is owned by Apollo Management Group.

        Another thing they own – University of Phoenix.

        The sad thing is that, published by “independent” companies or a university press, the scam will continue.

        I took Art History in 1982. My daughter just took it last year. Same textbook, different edition – and I got annoyed enough to compare the first sections of my book and her book (up to the beginning of the Enlightenment). IDENTICAL! Text, illustrations, the whole thing. Yet – she could NOT use my book for her first semester; MUST purchase (or rent) the latest edition.

        The second part? IDENTICAL until the last 17 pages. Which they actually did not get to in her second semester…

        (Addendum: A question – I don’t think the numbers for Amazon and Apple are for just their book divisions? None of the people here sell cell phones or vitamin supplements…)

  4. Dean Wesley Smith

    I find the number “57” very interesting. What were they afraid of with #58 through #100? Or 200? Anyone see why they stopped at 57?

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