Ranks of Top Publishers in 2020 Announced


The arrival of October usually would mean the publishing world starts packing for Frankfurt Book Fair.  The world’s largest publishing trade show went virtual in 2020. For 2021, there will be a fair – albeit a smaller fair than usual – as the world still struggles to get past the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This year’s program will be a mix of in person and online events,” explains Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer. “For the in-person portion, Fair organizers have obtained a permit with specific protocols that include limiting daily attendance to 25,000. Attendees must have proof of vaccination; have recently tested negative for the virus; or have recovered from Covid-19. And all attendees will be required to wear masks,”

An annual media highlight at Frankfurt is publication of global publisher rankings as determined by PW and Livres Hebdo, the French trade publication for publishers and booksellers.

Ranks of Top Publishers in 2020 Announced

“With its strong position in STM, legal, and business markets, British-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier tops the list with revenue of $5.89 billion, up 4.5% over 2019,” Albanese tells CCC.

“In the US market, acquisitions will have a notable impact on the ranking next year,” he notes. “HarperCollins completed its purchase of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt trade group in May, which will likely net them a spot deeper inside the top 10 largest—Harper was #10 this year, and Harcourt was #22.

“The bigger acquisition, of course, is the pending purchase of Simon & Schuster by Bertelsmann/PRH. When completed, the deal will add about $900 million in sales to PRH—which means Bertelsmann will likely be the world’s largest publisher, while removing 2020’s 25th-largest publisher, Simon & Schuster.”

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Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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