Who Are the Big Five Publishers?

“The Big Five,” as they’re known in the industry, are the five largest publishers in the United States. In reality, they are mostly all just divisions of foreign publishers. They were originally known as “The Big Six”; the name changed in 2013 when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013. All are based in New York City, the center of U.S. book publishing.

Hachette Book Group

Hachette Book Group Hachette Book Group (HBG) is a division of Hachette Livre, which is based in France and is a subsidiary of the French media company, Lagardère. Hachette Livre became Hachette American when it acquired Time Warner in 2006, which had previously gobbled up Little, Brown and Company.

Some of its imprints and publishing divisions are Avalon Travel; Center Street; Grand Central Publishing; Little, Brown and Company; Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers; Running Press; and Westview Press.

Harper Collins

HarperCollins HarperCollins Publishers is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s giant media company, NewsCorp. It began in 1817 as J. and J. Harper, named after brothers James and John Harper.The name changed to Harper & Brothers, and then to Harper & Row. NewsCorp acquired it in 1987 as well as the British publisher William Collins & Sons.

HarperCollins divisions and imprints include Avon Books; Broadside Books; Ecco Books; HarperAcademic; and Harper Audio; Harper Business; HarperCollins Childrens; HarperCollins; HarperTeen; Harper Perennial; Harper Voyager US; Harlequin Books; It Books; William Morrow; and Nelson Books.


Macmillan Publishers Macmillan is owned by the German Company Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, a global publishing giant. It has divisions/imprints in the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and more. Macmillan is a heavyweight in the college and academic book marketplace.

Imprints include Faber and Faber; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Kingfisher; Macmillan Audio; Minotaur; Picador; St. Martin’s Press; and Tor/Forge.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House In 2013, Penguin, owned by the German company Bertelsmann, combined their adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction print and digital trade book publishing divisions and acquired Random House.

Penguin Random House comprises more than 200 imprints and divisions. Some of the most well-known are Anchor Books; Ballantine Books; Crown Publishing Group; Dorling Kindersley; Doubleday Publishing Group; Knopf Penguin Group; Random House Books for Young Readers; Rough Guides; and Vintage Books.

Simon & Schuster

Simon and Schuster Richard Simon and Max Schuster founded Simon & Schuster in 1924 based on a book on crossword puzzles. It has been owned by Marshall Field, Gulf + Western, and Viacom. Currently, it’s part of the CBS Corporation and offers adult, audio, and children’s books.

Some of Simon and Schuster’s publishing divisions/imprints are Atria, Enliven, Free Press, Gallery Books, Howard Books, North Star Way, Pocket Books, Scribner, Threshold Editions, and Touchstone.

Should I Go with a Big Publisher or a Small Press?

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