The 15 Largest Publishing Companies In The World – Zippia (2023)

The traditional definition of commercial publishers is organizations that purchase manuscripts through agents or from authors. This type of business makes all editorial decisions moving forward as it pertains to content and style, funding production and distribution, and ultimately owning the copyright.

Sales proceeds from the books typically go to the publisher who will then pay the author or authors royalties, depending on their contractual agreement.

With that in mind, publishers are far-reaching and can handle manuscripts of many genres from different industries. In turn, publishers sell copies of their books through book stores, schools and colleges, libraries, special-interest groups, online, and through book clubs. They may also own the right to translate texts and publish books overseas. So what are the largest publishing companies currently in operation?

  • Pearson Education

    2021 Annual Revenue: $4.714 billion

    This British-owned education publishing and assessment services company owned a variety of educational media brands including Addison-Wesley, Peachpit, Prentice-Hall, eCollege, Longman, Scott Foresman, among others. The business is global, although 60% of their sales come from the United States.

    However, it has London headquarters and multiple offices across Europe. Pearson has a number of partnerships with higher-education publishers for both college textbooks and assessment testing.

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  • Penguin Random House

    2021 Annual Revenue: $4.09 billion

    Formed in 2013, Penguin Random House is less than a decade old. Formed by the merging of Random House, owned by German media company Bertelsmann, and Penguin Group, owned by Pearson plc, Penguin Random House publishes 15,000 titles annually under its 250 divisions.

    The company signed a first-look production deal with Universal Pictures in 2014 where Random House would be the producer of films based on Penguin Random House books.

    In 2015, the company expanded and rebranded its focus on its education division. Most recently, in November of 2020, Penguin Random House agreed to the purchase of Simon Schuster for $2.175 billion.

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  • Hachette Book Group

    2021 Annual Revenue: $2.653 billion


    Hachette is a French publisher that was founded in 1826, initially as a bookshop and publishing company. The organization acquired a number of different companies to expand its global presence and now includes Hachette Australia, Hachette UK, Hachette Book Group USA, among others.

    Their acquisitions allowed them to develop in areas like comic books, webcomics, and adult coloring books. The business is involved in three core businesses including publishing, partworks, and distribution.

  • Find Hachette Book Group Jobs Near Me

  • 2021 Annual Revenue: $2.08 billion

    John Wiley Sons, Inc., more commonly known as Wiley, is an American-owned publishing organization founded in 1807. The business’ main focus is on academic publishing and instructional materials for educational purposes.

    Wiley produces books as well as journals and encyclopedias that are available to purchase in print and in digital versions, as well as additional online products and services.

    Headquartered in Hoboken, New Jersey, Wiley was initially started as a print shop in Manhattan. The company published many notable literary figures including James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allan Poe.

  • HarperCollins

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.98 billion

    Founded in 1989, HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the world’s largest publishing houses and considered one of the “Big Five” publishing companies in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, HarperCollins is a subsidiary of News Corp, an American mass media and publishing company.

    The company has a presence in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, and China. HarperCollins is a household name having published notable works such as The Hobbit, The Art of Loving, The Alchemist, Don Quixote, The Giving Tree, Divergent, and more.

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  • Springer Nature

    2019 Annual Revenue: $1.72 billion


    Springer Nature is an English-German academic publishing company created when Springer Science + Business Media and Holtzbrinck Publishing Grou’s Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, and Macmillan Education merged together to form one company in 2015.

    The business employs over 10,000 employees and has a number of subsidiaries including BioMed Central, Macmillan Education, Nature Research, Scientific American, Springer Healthcare, Springer Gabler, among others.

  • McGraw-Hill Education

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.54 billion

    McGraw-Hill is an American learning math company and considered one of the “big three” educational publishers in the world.

    This organization provides educational content that can be customized, software, and services for students from pre-kindergarten through postgraduate education.

    In 2013, McGray Hill Education was acquired by Apollo Global Management for $2.4 billion. Alongside their traditional educational materials, McGraw Hill provides digital products and services to over 11 million users.

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  • Macmillan Publishers

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.4 billion

    Macmillan Publishers is a British-based publishing company also considered to be one of the “Big Five” publishers. Founded in 1843 in London, Macmillan is a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and has been since 1999.

    Macmillan is said to have laid a great literary foundation in their early days by publishing notable authors such as Charles Kingsley, Thomas Hughes, Francis Turner Palgrave, and Lewis Carroll, among others.

    Most recently, Macmillan and Canada-based online writing community Wattpad announced a partnership where Macmillan would handle sales and distribution of their new division, Wattpad Books.

  • Scholastic

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.3 billion

    This American publishing, education, and media company is a business that publishes and distributes comic books, books, and educational materials. Scholastic is best known for its reading clubs and fairs but also distributes its products through retail and online sales.

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    Founded in 1920, Scholastic was founded to be a publisher of youth magazines. Today, the business has three segments including children’s book publishing and distribution, education, and international. As of 2019,

  • Find Scholastic Jobs Near Me

  • Kodansha

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.235 billion

    This Japanese publishing company is a privately owned business and the largest Japanese publishing company. This organization produces popular manga magazines for their audience including Nakayoshi, Afternoon Evening, Weekly Shōnen Magazine, and Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine.

    The Kodansha company holds ownership in a variety of broadcasting companies and has supported Fuji TV in the past. Beyond manga magazines, Kodansha is also a publisher of literary magazines.

  • Cengage

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.23 billion

    Another American business on our list, Cengage is a business that focuses on educational content, technology, and services for higher education, K-12, professional, and library markets. This company is truly global, operating in over 20 countries worldwide.

    Headquartered in Boston, Cengage employs approximately 5,000 employees globally. The company has a library reference arm called Gale, which specializes in e-research and educational publishing. The business also develops and maintains databases published online, in print, as e-books, or in microform.

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  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1.05 billion

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a publisher focused on textbooks, instructional technology manuals and materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction books for all ages.

    Based in Boston, this organization was formerly known as Houghton Mifflin Company, but changed its name following its acquisition of Harcourt Publishing in 2007.

    Most recently, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced their involvement in TV production and planned a 2019 Netflix series reviving the Carmen Sandiego franchise.

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  • Simon Schuster

    2021 Annual Revenue: $1 billion

    This American publishing company is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. First formed in 1924, Simon and Max Schuster wanted to start a company that published crossword puzzles. In 1939, they backed Robert Fair de Graff who founded the first paperback publisher.

    In 1942 in a joint venture, Simon Schuster formed Little Golden Books, a popular children’s book publisher. Most recently, Simon Schuster announced that they would be acquired by Penguin Random House for $2.175 billion with the deal expecting to finalize in 2021.

  • Oxford University Press

    2021 Annual Revenue: $902.61 million

    Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press at the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world and the second oldest. The university became involved in print trade in 1480 as a major publisher of bibles, prayer books, and scholarly works.

    In the late 19th century, the organization took on the task of creating the Oxford English Dictionary and from that project significantly expanded into other areas.

    Governed by a group of 15 academics, Oxford University Press has published an incredible amount of notable titles including the Oxford dictionaries, bibliographies, world classic compilations, history books, English language teaching books, bibles, atlases, and even music books.

    They also have a division, Oxford Journals, which is a major publisher of academic journals as well.

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  • Shueisha

    2021 Annual Revenue: $400 million

    This Japanese company was first established in 1925 as an entertainment-related publishing division of a Japanese publisher called Shogakukan. In 1926, Shueisha became an independent company.

    This organization also publishes manga and kanzenban magazines including Jump magazine line and other magazines popular in Japan. Their model also includes light novel imprints, focused on a variety of different audiences.

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  • FAQs

    What is the largest publishing companies in the world? ›

    2017 Rank2016 RankPublishing Group or Division
    22RELX Group
    33Thomson Reuters*
    49 more rows
    Sep 14, 2018

    Who are the Big 3 publishers? ›

    Here are links to the “Big 5″* trade book publishers and their internship programs.
    • Penguin/Random House.
    • Hachette Book Group.
    • Harper Collins.
    • Simon and Schuster.
    • Macmillan.

    How many big publishing companies are there? ›

    In the USA, the Big 5 consists of Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

    What are the big six publishers? ›

    The Big Five include Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster. The Penguin Group and Random House merged to become Penguin Random House. HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster are the only two U.S. companies. The others are German, British or French.

    Is the US government the largest publisher in the world? ›

    The largest publishing company in the U.S. is Pearson Education, with a revenue of $4.714 billion and a market share of 40% among all U.S. academic publishers. As of 2022, the global publishing industry has a market size of $89.25 billion. At least 1.7 million books are published each year.

    What publisher does Stephen King use? ›

    Stephen King | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster.

    Who publishes the most books? ›

    United States

    Who are the Big 5 Publishing Houses 2022? ›

    As 2022 began, the U.S. trade publishing business was dominated by what has been called the Big Five—Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan.

    Who are seven publishing? ›

    Seven Publishing Group General Information

    Publisher of magazines, websites, apps and email campaigns. The company manages printing, videos, digital platform, social and mobile contents and offers digital marketing services.

    How many times was Harry Potter rejected by publishers? ›

    J.K. Rowling's original 'Harry Potter' pitch was rejected 12 times — see it in new exhibit. A new exhibit in the British Library features a number of magical delights!

    How many major publishing companies are there in the US? ›

    There are 2,047 Book Publishing businesses in the US as of 2023, a decline of -0.4% from 2022.

    What is the publishing capital of the world? ›

    France's Strasbourg is to begin its tenure as UNESCO's World Book Capital on April 23, 2024, as Accra concludes its year in the role.

    What is the oldest publisher in the world? ›

    Schwabe Verlag in Basel is the oldest printing and publishing house in the world. The company is based on the Offizin founded by Johannes Petri after 1488 and has since been an independent Swiss family business.

    Who is the best publisher in the US? ›

    1Penguin Random House
    3Simon & Schuster
    4Hachette Book Group
    16 more rows
    Feb 24, 2017

    How big is the US publishing industry? ›

    What is the market size of the Book Publishing industry in the US in 2023? The market size, measured by revenue, of the Book Publishing industry is $29.8bn in 2023.

    Who is the biggest publisher of the Bible? ›

    the Zondervan

    Which publisher accepted J.K. Rowling? ›

    The novel was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted it. It goes on: "A copy was submitted to Bloomsbury Publishing and was a significant step in convincing them to offer J.K. Rowling her first contract."

    Is J.K. Rowling a self publisher? ›

    Nope. She went the traditional publishing house route. Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1995 long before the internet had made self-publishing the viable alternative it now is.

    How many publishers did J.K. Rowling go to? ›

    She told another fan on Twitter that she received “loads” of rejections before she finally got published – Little sent the manuscript to 12 different publishers before it ended up with Bloomsbury.

    Who is the richest publisher in the world? ›

    Top Book Publishing Companies in the World by Revenue
    RankBook Publishing CompanyRevenue (USD billions)
    2RELX Group5.6
    3Thomson Reuters4.9
    6 more rows
    Jun 24, 2022

    Who is the youngest publisher in the world? ›

    Titled 'The Lost Cat', Bella's book tells the tale of Snowy, a cat who gets lost after venturing outside alone at night. Guinness World Records has announced its youngest publisher who is all of five years and 211 days. Bella J Dark from Weymouth, UK has become the world's youngest person to publish a book (female).

    What is the best publisher for first time authors? ›

    Here's a list of the best self-publishing companies for authors:
    • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
    • Barnes and Noble Press.
    • Kobo.
    • Apple Books.
    • Self-Publishing School.
    • Reedsy.
    • Lulu.
    • IngramSpark.
    Feb 5, 2022

    What is the #1 book ever sold? ›

    According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

    Who is the No 1 book in the world? ›

    Top 100 best selling books of all time
    1Da Vinci Code,TheBrown, Dan
    2Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsRowling, J.K.
    3Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneRowling, J.K.
    4Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixRowling, J.K.
    45 more rows

    What is the most sold book ever? ›

    25 Best-Selling Books of All-Time
    • #1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) ...
    • #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) ...
    • #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) ...
    • #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) ...
    • #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (107 million copies sold)

    What is a 50/50 publishing deal? ›

    In the typical 50/50 co-publishing deal, since half of all income is writer's share and half is considered publisher's share, you are entitled to 75 cents of every dollar earned (i.e. your full 50 cents as the writer and 25 cents as the publisher, since you assigned half of the publishing away).

    What city has the most publishing houses? ›

    With pretty much every industry orchestrating its global activity from New York City, it's normal that some of the largest media and publishing companies have also set up their main offices in the city that never sleeps.

    Do the Big 5 publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts? ›

    While getting published by one of these top publishers is a dream for most authors, none of them accept unsolicited manuscripts, which are manuscripts that are submitted directly from authors and don't go through a literary agent.

    Is Amazon a publisher? ›

    We publish emerging, bestselling and critically-acclaimed authors in digital, print, and audio formats. With Amazon's drive for innovation and passion for books, we merge technology and art to support our authors and help their stories change the world.

    Who is the boss of a publishing company? ›

    The publisher is the acknowledged strategic leader of the house, setting the vision and tone for the publishing house or imprint.

    Can you make money if you self publish? ›

    The salary range for self-published ranges quite drastically, and mostly depends on the number of books sold. Self-published authors can make between 40 to 60 percent royalties on a single book sale. This is far more than traditionally published authors who make only 10-12 percent royalties.

    Is it better to self publish or get a publisher? ›

    Thankfully, self-published books have a much, much higher royalty rate than traditional publishers because you get to keep anywhere from 50-70% of your book's profits. With a traditional publisher, they take much more and you only end up with 10% maybe 12% after years of proving yourself as an author.

    How many times did J.K. Rowling edit Harry Potter? ›

    3. Rewriting is just as essential. You would think after five years, J.K. Rowling would just be able to dive right in and write the whole of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, without much rewriting. She rewrote the opening chapter of her first book a total of fifteen times, however.

    Is Amazon the largest book publisher in the world? ›

    As the biggest self-publishing service in the world, Amazon's KDP enabled over 1 million authors to get their books published. The company is expected to pay out over $522 million in royalties in 2022 alone, a 16% increase from the previous year.

    Who sells the most books in the world? ›

    Having sold more than 600 million copies worldwide. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling is the best-selling book series in history. The first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, has sold in excess of 120 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books of all time.

    Who is the best book publisher in the world? ›

    Who Are The Big 5 In Publishing?
    • The big five publishers in the world are:
    • Harper Collins.
    • Simon & Schuster.
    • Macmillan.
    • Hachette.
    • Penguin Random House.

    Who is the richest book publisher? ›

    Top Book Publishing Companies in the World by Revenue
    RankBook Publishing CompanyRevenue (USD billions)
    2RELX Group5.6
    3Thomson Reuters4.9
    6 more rows
    Jun 24, 2022

    Which city is known as city of books? ›

    A book lover's guide to Kolkata, India's literary city.

    Which is the oldest publisher in the world? ›

    Schwabe Verlag in Basel is the oldest printing and publishing house in the world. The company is based on the Offizin founded by Johannes Petri after 1488 and has since been an independent Swiss family business.

    What is the number one most sold book in the world? ›

    The best-selling book of all time is the Christian Bible.

    What is the most widely printed book in the world? ›

    The most read book in the world is the Bible. Writer James Chapman created a list of the most read books in the world based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years. He found that the Bible far outsold any other book, with a whopping 3.9 billion copies sold over the last 50 years.

    Who sells the most books in America? ›

    Amazon Books

    Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world with a catalog that includes more than 33 million titles, and they will ship them just about anywhere.

    What were the top 5 US publishing companies in 2017? ›

    The Big Five publishing houses are:
    • Penguin Random House.
    • Hachette.
    • HarperCollins.
    • Macmillan.
    • Simon & Schuster.
    Nov 17, 2022


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