Secular Companies Gaining Control of Christian Publishing

"The Sower," Simon & Schuster logo, ...

Simon & Schuster logo, circa 1961

The “Big Six” secular publishers are gaining control a large portion of the Christian publishing world. Book imprints (or brands) that are part of the big publishing establishments are highlighted below. In addition, some of the other imprints listed also publish inspirational books not related to one of the Christian imprints. For example, both Penguin and Macmillan publish Christian books as part of their general book catalogs.

Of particular interest to the Christian public is HarperCollins. They have long owned Zondervan, and also recently purchased Thomas Nelson.  That means the same company owns the distribution rights to both the New International Bible (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV), the Bible translations most commonly used by Evangelicals.

Here are the so-called “Big Six” publishing companies, with some of their trade name imprints. Each imprint was previously a well-know publishing company in its own right before being purchased and absorbed into the larger brand. Christian book imprints are highlighted in yellow.

  • HarperCollins (Avon, Avon Inspire, Ecco, Harper, William Morrow, Grafton Books, HarperOne, Thomas Nelson, Zondervan).
  • Random House  (Ballantine, Bantam, Crown, Doubleday, Ten Speed, Dell, Pantheon, WaterBrook, Multnomah, Convergent).
  • Hachette (Center Street, Grand Central, Little, Brown & Co., Forever, Faithwords) .
  • Simon & Schuster (Fireside, Free Press, Howard, Pocket Books, Scribner, Touchstone, Washington Square Press).
  • Penguin (Ace, Berkley, Dutton, Putnum, Prentice Hall, Viking, Puffin, Dial, Grosset & Dunlap, Penguin Praise).
  • Macmillan (Pan, Picador, St. Martin’s Press, Sidgwick & Jackson, Henry Holt, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Penguin, owned by Pearson PLC, is in the process of merging some of their publishing units with Random House.

Of the “Big Six,” only Simon & Schuster remains under American control. It is a division of National Amusements, which also holds the controlling interest in CBS and Viacom. HarperCollins is owned by NewsCorp, the Australian company, now with U.S. incorporation, headed by Rupert Murdoch who owns the Fox network and many other international media properties. Random House is owned by Bertelsmann, a German media conglomerate, and Hachette is a large diversified French-owned corporation. Penguin is owned by Pearson PLC, a British firm, and Macmillan is owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, another German media conglomerate.

A number of independent Christian publishers continue to be active in the marketplace. They include companies like Baker Publishing Group (including Bethany House, Revell, Baker, Brazos, and Chosen imprints), Barbour Publishing, Charisma Media, Eerdmans, Crossway Books, New Leaf Publishing Group (Master Books and New Leaf Press imprints), Worthy Publishing and others.

In addition, other publishing companies are owned by ministry organizations, such as Abingdon (The United Methodist Publishing House), Concordia (Missouri Synod Lutheran Church), CLC (Christian Literature Crusade), IVP (InterVarsity), NavPress (Navigators) and Moody Publishing (Moody Bible Institute).

Published on: Nov 13, 2012

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