10 Largest Publishers in the World

Table of Contents

In this post, we will look at the list of the 10 largest publishers in the world.

When the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg introduced the world’s first printing press, he would probably not know how far the idea would spread. Nor would he realized how much it would change the world.  

Since then, publishers have always played a big role in the world of literature.

These publishers have produced groundbreaking literature, academic research, and children’s books and touched millions’ lives.

Some of the publishers in this list have existed for more than 100 years, serving generation after generation. And these publishing houses continue to play a huge role in bringing it to us.

Some have a regular, big presence at major book fairs worldwide such as Frankfurt Book Fair, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Sharjah International Book Fair and so on.

Following are 10 of the largest publishers in the world:

1. Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House | 10 largest publishers in the world

Penguin Random House’s roots go back to the merger of two publishing giants, Penguin Group and Random House, in 2013.

Seven years later (in 2020), a German conglomerate, Bertelsmann, became the publisher’s owner after acquiring Penguin’s stake.

A powerful mega-publisher, Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people worldwide, headquartered in New York, United States. The publishing house has a strong presence in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Indian, Germany and Spain.

2. Hachette

Hachette logo | 10 largest publishers in the world

Hachette (originally Hachette Livre) is a French publisher with its headquarter based in Paris, France. Founded back in 1826, it has become one of the leading and largest publishing houses worldwide.

After a series of mergers and expansions, many Hachette groups emerged, including Hachette UK, Hachette Australia and Hatchette Book Group USA, catering to different regions and markets.

Hachette and its subsidiaries publish works in both fiction and non-fiction genres (including daily news).

Hachette Livre operates in many countries in Europe, North America and in the Asia-Pacific region. It is involved in publishing print and distributing electronic media.

3. Springer Nature

Springer Nature logo | 10 largest publishers in the world

Springer Nature is a leading global scientific publisher providing professional books, journals and other educational materials.

Springer’s academic journals are highly sought after due to their strong presence and impact in the academic fraternity.

Springer Nature became a giant publisher when a group of publishers merged, involving Springer Science and Business Media, Palgrave Macmillan, Nature Publishing Group and Macmillan Education.

Springer Nature employs more than 9,000 people in over 50 countries on five continents.

4. John Wiley & Sons

Wiley logo | 10 largest publishers in the world

More commonly known as Wiley, this big publishing house is an American publisher of academic journals, books and encyclopedias.

Wiley was founded by Charles Wiley (the father of John Wiley, who would later take over) in 1807. Its headquarter was based in New York, United States.

Wiley has published American literature classics featuring prominent authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, James Fenimore, etc.

The publishing house has expanded over the years and published books on various topics, including mathematics, engineering, chemistry and finance.

The publisher is deeply involved in publishing electronic media, ebooks and e-learning materials as education has adapted to distance and online learning.

5. HarperCollins

HarperCollins logo | 10 largest publishers in the world

HarperCollins is an American publisher of books and is headquartered in New York City, United States.

HarperCollins was founded in 1817 by two brothers, James Smith and the Reverend George Jones, who were initially booksellers in Manhattan (New York City) in 1817.

The publisher grew in size and revenues through its various mergers and acquisitions (the same way most other big publishers do). These mergers include William Collins (United Kingdom), Thomas Nelson (United States) and others.

The publisher is focused mainly on non-fiction books, publishing new books on diverse topics including fiction, lifestyle, business management, religion, children’s books, etc.

6. McGraw-Hill

McGraw-Hill logo | 10 largest publishers in the world

With its headquarter in New York, United States, McGraw Hill is one of the leading academic publishers in the world. For many years, the company frequently makes a list among the largest publishers in the world.

The group provides learning materials for students and professionals across disciplines like mathematics, science, education, information management, etc.

McGraw-Hill operates globally with locations in many countries, including United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, China, Singapore, Morocco and Nigeria. Altogether, McGraw-Hill has a presence in almost 30 countries worldwide, but its product offering extends to over 130 countries worldwide.

7. Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster | 10 largest publisher in the world

Another leading publisher based in the United States, Simon & Schuster, publishes books under various imprints, including Scribner, Pocket Books, Gallery Books, etc.

Today, Simon & Schuster is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS, a gigantic entertainment and media corporation having access to 700 million subscribers in over 150 countries worldwide.

The company publishes books on various topics, including business, science, sociology, etc.

Founded in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and Max Schuster, Simon & Schuster originally published books for entertainment purposes but later turned toward publishing books of content-rich subjects like business, science, sociology, etc.

In recent years, Simon & Schuster continued to grow by acquiring smaller publishers and merging with others.

8. Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters | 10 largest publishers in the world

More than 10 years ago, Thomson Corporation, one of the world’s largest information companies, acquired the British company Reuters Group, and Thomson Reuters was born.

Another world leader in book publishing, Thomson Reuters has been recording over $1 billion in revenues for the past couple of years.

The company was first established in Toronto, Canada with its global headquarter remains in Canada until today.

Among the big boys, Thomson is one of those belonging to the more diverse corporations as its range of products goes way beyond publications and academic learning.

9. Cengage Learning

Cengage Learning | 10 largest publishers in the world

Cengage Learning is a world leader in educational publishing and has been operating globally for over 125 years. Cengage is also one of the largest academic course providers in the world.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, Cengage Learning operates globally with its headquarters in Boston. The company has over 3,000 employees in 26 countries worldwide.

The company publishes books on print, and digital platforms focused on educators, students and professionals in different fields of life like arts, humanities, sciences and technologies, and so on.

10. Scholastic

Scholastic | 10 largest publishers in the world

Scholastic is a leading marketer and publisher of children’s books in the United States. It is a public-listed company that also produces and sells various products like stationery items and other educational materials.

The company operates globally, with its headquarters in New York, United States. Despite not being as well known as other major publishers on the list, Scholastic has existed for well over a decade.

Scholastic has offices in different countries like Mexico, India, Thailand and United Kingdom, among others. The company also exports books to other countries like Canada, Australia and the diverse western market.

Earlier this year, Scholastic stopped the distribution of a children’s graphic novel after receiving criticism for condoning racism.

[Note: The latest list of the 10 largest publishers in the world (2013) is now released in this link]

Concluding remark

The role of publishers in society has been changing rapidly.

Even with the advent of self-publishing, mainstream publishers remain a crucial backbone of society.

Undoubtedly, some big publishers have been in the limelight for practicing near monopoly, imposing extravagant subscription charges to institutions, or even allegedly having shady dealing with other parties.

I believe these controversies are not the end of things. They are just a balance-and-check mechanism that will push these publishers on track to benefit the readers, researchers, and learners.

I am hopeful that this list of the 10 largest publishers in the world, analyzed from many sources, will serve as a good reference tool for those interested in studying these companies.

Have you published with any of these publishers? Or maybe have worked in one? Do drop your comment below!

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