I am so sick of the term “The Big Six” that I want to try something here, just for fun.
Feel free if you have some knowledge of publishing to try to answer these questions, because, to be honest, I do NOT know exactly the answers. And I am curious as to what other people think. (And I am tired of everyone just lumping all fiction publishing into “The Big Six” without any real understanding of the corporations, or more likely the conglomerates they are thinking of, let alone their names, let alone what “controlling interest” in a company even means.)
Only corporation names in your answers, please. But if you know it, state the imprint owned by the corporation as well.
For example, St. Martins Corporation has a number of mystery imprints and might be in the running for the top six publishers of mystery.
Tor Books is an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC and Tom Doherty Associates, LLC has a bunch of other imprints as well, including Forge.
(Both St. Martins and Tor are corporations, and both have interests owned by a larger corporation, which has interests that are owned by yet a larger corporation (conglomerate), yet both companies can fight for authors against each other and both companies run as individual corporations under US Corporation law.)
1) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in science fiction publishing?
2) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in romance fiction publishing?
3) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in mystery fiction publishing?
4) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in literary fiction publishing?
5) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in young adult fiction publishing?
6) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in nonfiction (overall if possible) publishing?
7) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in Christian fiction publishing?
8) Who are “The Big Six” corporations and/or imprints in all FICTION publishing? (I’m not sure this question is possible to answer without some defining of terms to limit the question, but you can try. State your limitations, such as “income” or “gross sales” or “hardbacks” or “mass market.”)
9) When people say “The Big Six” in fiction publishing, who do you think they are referring to? Which six corporation or international conglomerate names spring to mind for you?
(Is Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck, a German family-run corporation that owns Holzbrinck LLC, which owns controlling interest in a number of national publishing companies. Was that one of those names that instantly spring to mind when you think of “The Big Six?”)
And where do companies like Daw Books, Baen Books, The Baker Publishing Group, Tyndale House Publishers, Harlequin, Bloomsbury, and so on fit into the mix?
For example, Thomas Nelson is the sixth largest publisher of Christian fiction. Controlling interest in Thomas Nelson is possibly being bought (as of last news I read) by HarperCollins, which is a major publishing corporation that has interests or controlling interests in William Morrow, among other publishers. Of course, controlling shares of HarperCollins are owned by News Corporation, which is Murdock-controlled corporation.
But, of course, unless you understand how major corporations work and how “controlling interest” in a corporation’s stock (sometimes less than 30%) affects a corporation’s business, you really don’t know what any of this means.
For example, take Walker Publishing. A controlling interest in Walker is owned by Bloomsbury Publishing plc., which is a privately owned corporation. But Walker is distributed by McMillian. Not owned, not a controlling interest in, but just distributed.
So, if you can’t answer these nine questions, you are the same as me. I can’t answer them all either, at least not without some major research, which is why I get so sick of people acting like they know what they are talking about when they toss out the term “The Big Six.”
Fiction publishing is not one single and simple place. And publishing overall is far, far larger than fiction publishing.
Stop using the “Big Six” term unless you can answer the above questions off the top of your head.
And, of course, if you can answer the above questions, you won’t use that term any more to talk about all publishers in general.