In an article dated July 19, 2013, Publishers Weekly provided a very interesting list of the world’s largest 60 book publishers and I think it is worth taking a moment to review. Here’s the link:
What I noticed right away is that most of the publishers on this list were in the business of providing non-fiction books, specifically geared towards science and education. The main fiction notable was the Bertelsmann’s Random House subsidiary that rose to the rank of #8 due to the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy. The other fiction notable was Harlequin whose parent company is Torstar Corporation. Harlequin came in at a respectable 40 on the list.
I also noted that many of the publishers on this list were not US companies and that China is gaining a stronger foothold in the publishing world. In fact, the parent company of Random House is the German multinational mass media corporation Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, which BTW also owns Penguin, and if you visit Bertelsmann’s website you’ll see that it’s actually Penguin Random House. Remember when these two publishing houses used to be separate?
This list is cool for a number of reasons to include the fact that you can link to a separate page that provides some useful facts about each publisher including market share and digital presence.
Given all the consolidation in the publishing industry worldwide I was actually surprised that there were as many as 60 publishers to be put on any list, even if it’s mostly non-fiction and educational.
So what’s a fiction writer to do? Well, if Random House’s bump in sales due to the Fifty Shades trilogy is an indicator then the old adage that sex sells is as true today as it was when it was first said or whispered. Gee I wonder if the saying goes back to the papyrus days, or better yet, I wonder if it was ever cast in stone. Given human nature, it probably was.