Research Outline

Top publishing companies


To have a breakdown of the top book publishers in the US by segment (print, e-book, audiobook).

Early Findings

Top companies by segment

  • While there are figures available for the total sales of the three main book publishing segments, there are no reports that list the top companies for the print and audio segments. Hence, we researched the segment breakdown of the top overall companies, identified in previous briefs. However, not all these companies provide annual reports with that breakdown.
  • For the e-book segment, an Ibis report does note the players with the largest market share: they include Penguin Random House Audio, Inc., Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Hachette Book Group, but it doesn't provide figures for their market shares. Note that 4 out of 5 of these companies overlap with the top publishers generally.

Penguin Random House

  • PRH is owned completely by Bertelsmann, however the company only became a complete owner last month.
  • Bertelsmann's annual report breaks down its revenue by division, including PRH, but doesn't breakdown PRH's earnings by segment.
  • It does note however, that, in 2018, "The strongest growth drivers were audiobooks, which grew substantially in all the core markets, as well as the publication of former US First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming.” This is at a global level rather than just the US, though 57.4% of PRH's earnings come from the US.

Harper Collins

  • HC is owned by Newscorp.
  • HC's sales are 50% genre and 50% trade, and their downloadable audiobooks grew by 40% over fiscal year 2018.
  • HC's digital sales accounted for 20% of consumer revenue in the fiscal year, and e-book sales shrank a little, while digital sales rose by 7%. Note that digital includes both e-books and audio.
  • Newscorp's annual report notes that as of June 30, 2018, "HarperCollins offered approximately 100,000 publications in digital formats, and nearly all of HarperCollins’ new titles, as well as the majority of its entire catalog, are available as e-books."
  • While the annual report doesn't provide any more of a segment revenue breakdown, we can assume that 80% of HC's revenue is print (if 20% is digital). That equates to $1.4 billion and $350 million respectively (HC's total revenue in Fiscal 2019 was $1.75 billion).
  • HarperCollins owns more than 120 branded publishing imprints, including Harper, William Morrow, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 40 Avon, Harlequin and Christian publishers Zondervan and Thomas Nelson.