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Who are the 'Big 5' publishers?

The 'Big 5' publishers collectively own nearly 80% of the trade book market in the US (Grady, 2022). They are the embodiment of the traditional publishing market and have been increasingly criticized for their excessive gatekeeping practices (agents and traditional publishers are more selective than ever, minority voices are still underrepresented, and authors are expected to put an increasing amount of work into their own editing/sales/marketing without seeing a rise in profits).

Penguin Random House – (includes Bantam, Knopf Doubleday, Dutton, and Putnam)

250+ different imprints under their name

70k digital and 15k print books annually

Hachette Book Groups (includes Little Brown Books)

Dozens of imprints under their name

2k+ adult books, 500 children and YA books, and 750 audiobooks annually

Harper Collins (includes Avon and William Morrow)

120 imprints worldwide

10k books published annually

Macmillan (includes Tor Books, Bloomsbury, and Wattpad)

Go to for complete list

Dozens of imprints worldwide

Simon & Schuster (includes Scribner)

Owned by media mogul Paramount that owns CBS, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and theCW television networks ( Go to for details)

Dozens of imprints worldwide

2k+ books annually

Recently, one of the largest of the five (Penguin Random House) and Simon and Schuster have been involved in a lawsuit with the US justice department after the proposal of a merger between the two companies that would shrink the 'Big 5' to the 'Big 4' and make the market less competitive, driving author compensation down (you can read more about the lawsuit here).


Grady, C. (2022, August 25). Book publishers just spent 3 weeks in court arguing they have no idea what they're doing. Vox. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from

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