Publisher:History of SF Imprints

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Excerpts from a 2005-09-08 Usenet discussion:

From: Andrew Wheeler <acwhe...@optonline.com>
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.written
Subject: Re: Major Publishers
References: <1126224163.594139.139850@g47g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>
Date: Thu, 08 Sep 2005 21:14:00 -0400

Major publishers, in rough order of size:

Random House Inc. (formed by the late-90s merger of what was then Random House [itself formed by several mergers and acquisitions over thirty years or so, notably including Crown and Knopf at that point] and Bantam Doubleday Dell [formed by the merger of Doubleday & Co. with the Bantam and Dell publishing enterprises in the mid-80s when the German publishing empire Bertelsmann bought both of them])

Random House publishes science fiction under the Del Rey imprint (part of the old Ballantine group of imprints, which were merged a couple of years ago with "Little Random," the imprint actually called Random House, and its affiliates) and under the Bantam Spectra imprint (part of the Bantam Dell group, which has been that for a good decade, as far as I can remember).

There was a historically important Doubleday science fiction line, but that's been dead for quite some time now. The Random House Books for Young Readers Group also does quite a bit of SF and SFnal books for teenagers and younger readers, but I don't believe they have any named imprint dedicated to the genre.

Other Random House imprints occasionally publish things that look like SF, but those are the major forces.

HarperCollins (formed by the late-90s merger of the then HarperCollins [itself formed by a merger before my time of the venerable Harper Brothers US publishing company and a British company called Collins] and the Hearst book publishing operations (mostly under the Avon and William Morrow names).

Harper publishes SF primarily under the Eos line -- though there are essentially *two* Eos lines, one for adult fiction and one for YA (young adult) fiction.

Penguin (formed by the late-90s merger [1] of Viking Penguin [itself the product of an earlier then-mega-merger] and Putnam Berkley [ditto])

Penguin publishes SF under the Ace and Roc imprints, and those two imprints share an editorial team.

Penguin has a dedicated SF/Fantasy YA line, Firebird, but that's nearly all paperback reprints. However, they also do a number of originals (which often then turn into Firebird books in paperback) through other named lines.

Penguin distributes and provides office space to DAW Books (the publishing company founded by legendary SF editor Don Wollheim), but only owns a minority stake in DAW.

Simon & Shuster was formed by the *early* '90s merger of what was then S&S (which included the Pocket paperback empire) and Macmillan (which was once related to the British company of the same name, in ways I don't remember anymore -- they're very different now).

S&S publishes the Star Trek line through Pocket Books, and occasionally other SF.

They also have a very active YA publishing arm, which has done lots of fantasy over the years.

I think the next one is called The Time Warner Book Publishing Group these days, though I could be a corporate name or two behind. It's the book publishing arm of what was briefly named AOL Time Warner, and includes the Warner publishing imprints and the old respected Little, Brown hardcover line.

Warner publishes SF under the Warner Aspect imprint.

Then there's Holtzbrinck, the *other* big German publishing combine (after Bertelsmann, parent of the first house above). They own Tor, the largest SF publisher in the US. They also own St. Martin's Press (which does the Dozois and Datlow/Grant/Link "Best of the Year" collections, and a few other things), Farrar Straus Giroux (a literary house that doesn't deliberately do SF) and Bloomsbury (the publisher of _Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell_). Oh, and Henry Holt, but that doesn't do SF that I know of.


Somewhat smaller houses that do some SF include:

Hyperion, which used to be the name for the publishing operations of the Walt Disney Company. (Though I think it's just called "Walt Disney Worldwide Publishing" or something like that now.)

Baen Books, an independent SF publisher founded and run by editor Jim Baen. Distributed by S&S.

I mentioned DAW in passing under Penguin, above, but they are independent.

Harcourt (formerly Harcourt Brace, formerly Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, formerly Harcourt Brace, formerly Harcourt) had an adult SF line edited by noted Lem translator (and novelist) Michael Kandel for a few years, but that appears to be dead now. They're also a major YA publisher, doing Diane Duane's "Young Wizard" books, among others.

Houghton Mifflin is J.R.R. Tolkien's US hardcover and trade paperback publisher, and so should be mentioned for that. They don't really do any other SF, though.

Harlequin, the Canadian romance publishing empire, has been doing more and more SF-tinged romance over the past half-decade, and has an imprint, Luna, dedicated to those books now. (Not to say that books with SF subjects ddon't turn up elsewhere in their line, though.)

Ibooks was Byron Preiss's publishing arm, and he was always interested in SF and comics. It seems to be continuing pretty much as before in the wake of his very sudden death this summer. They do a lot of classic reprints, for one thing.

Leisure is a major horror publisher, and is part of a publishing group whose name I can't remember right now. (Probably because I hardly ever deal with them.) Kensington! I think that's them.

Then there's the Avalon Publishing Group, which consists of a number of smallish imprints. Most of them do SF only rarely or inadvertently, but Carroll & Graf publishes the "Mammoth Book of" line, which has included many SF titles.

Scholastic is a major, major YA publisher (they do that guy with the lightning-bolt scar, for one thing), but don't publish adult fiction of any kind. They have quite a bit of SF for younger readers.

Wizards of the Coast publish quite a number of books tying into their RPG games, many of which are fantasy novels.


Then we move down to the SF-specific small presses. There are quite a number of these, from Night Shade and Golden Gryphon to NESFA Press and Old Earth Books. I'd say there's at least a dozen operations at this level that publish at least one SF/Fantasy/Horror book a year, and some of them publish quite a bit more than that. (Case in point: Wildside Press, a small operation with a massive catalog of books.) I won't try to list them all, but there are a number of them.

So there are six "big" houses, doing SF (and mysteries, which I didn't really cover) under various imprints. None of them are completely unified, so that's more than six outlets at that level. Adding in all of the others, you get something like 30 (if I counted right) houses that do a significant amount of SF each year.


[1] No points for spotting a trend at this point.

Andrew Wheeler

From: woll...@khavrinen.csail.mit.edu (Garrett Wollman)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.written
Subject: Re: Major Publishers
Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2005 02:29:49 +0000 (UTC)
Organization: MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Message-ID: <dfqs2t$85f$1@grapevine.lcs.mit.edu>

[Re: HarperCollins]

Actually, it was Harper & Row for about 40 years before it became part of HarperCollins. (I don't have a date for that merger, but I do have 1817 for the formation of Harper & Bros. and 1961 for Harper & Row. There's also a few weeks in 1898 when Doubleday & McClure ran Harper.) HarperCollins was formed when Rupert Murdoch's The News Corporation Limited, which already owned William Collins Ltd., bought Harper & Row.

Penguin (formed by the late-90s merger [1] of Viking Penguin [itself the product of an earlier then-mega-merger] and Putnam Berkley [ditto])

There's also the former NAL and Dutton buried in there as well.

Simon & Shuster was formed by the *early* '90s merger of what was then S&S (which included the Pocket paperback empire) and Macmillan (which was once related to the British company of the same name, in ways I don't remember anymore -- they're very different now).

British Macmillan was started in 1846. Macmillan's American distributor, owned by a New Yorker named George Brett, seems from my paltry history seems to have been founded some time around 1890. (This makes some amount of sense, as foreign authors were not granted copyright in the US until 1891.) When British Macmillan reorganized as a limited company in 1896, their American distributor did as well, incorporating as the Macmillan Company of New York. However, at no point was the New York company in any sense part of British Macmillan. Macmillan of New York eventually became a full-line publisher, in addition to reprinting and distributing works of English publishers, but for many years (at least until 1943, the date of my reference work) the firms remained close and each would often publish the other firm's authors in their respective territories.

Some point after the War, British Macmillan decided that it ought to have its own US arm. Since American Macmillan still existed at that time, they had to call it something else, and hence "St. Martin's" (after the London street where the mother house had been) was born.

American Macmillan soldiered on for a while, merging with Scribner/Athenaeum in 1984. The deal you reference with S&S was effectively a slow breakup. S&S was owned by Paramount Communications, which was then (1994) being acquired by Viacom. Paramount Communications was the old Gulf+Western, which had bought S&S in 1975 and Prentice-Hall in 1984. By 1998, the Macmillan trade list had effectively vanished or been subsumed into S&S or Scribner's; Viacom sold the textbook business to Pearson (who also owned Penguin and Addison-Wesley). The reference business (under both Scribner's and Macmillan names) ended up in the hands of Thomson in 1999, but my notes differ as to whether it was sold directly by Viacom or sold on by Pearson.

Then there's Holtzbrinck, the *other* big German publishing combine [...] Farrar Straus Giroux (a literary house that doesn't deliberately do SF) and Bloomsbury (the publisher of _Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell_). Oh, and Henry Holt, but that doesn't do SF that I know of.

FSG was Madeleine L'Engle's long-time publisher for both YA and adult fiction.

Harcourt (formerly Harcourt Brace, formerly Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, formerly Harcourt Brace, formerly Harcourt) had an adult SF line edited by noted Lem translator (and novelist) Michael Kandel for a few years, but that appears to be dead now. They're also a major YA publisher, doing Diane Duane's "Young Wizard" books, among others.

Here's a very interesting history between Holt and Harcourt, but the just-plain-"Harcourt" name is a recent thing. My data (with some large admitted gaps) says:

1866:Henry Holt forms partnership with Frederick Leypoldt.
1919:Harcourt, Brace & Co. established by former Henry Holt employees.
1967:CBS acquires Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
1975:Harcourt Brace Jovanovich acquires Pyramid Books, renames to Jove.
1979:Harcourt Brace Jovanovich sells Jove to Putnam Berkley Group.
1985:Holtzbrinck acquires Holt, Rinehart trade division from CBS.
1987:CBS sells Holt, Rinehart & Winston to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
1991:General Cinema acquires Harcourt, Brace & Co.  [name may be anachronism]
1992-07-03:General Cinema changes name to Harcourt General.
1993:Harcourt General spins off General Cinema.
1998:Harcourt General acquires Morgan Kaufmann.
1999-10-22:Harcourt General spins off Neiman-Marcus.
2001-07-11:Reed Elsevier acquires Harcourt General.
2001-07-11:Thomson acquires Harcourt Higher Education from Reed Elsevier.
Houghton Mifflin is J.R.R. Tolkien's US hardcover and trade paperback publisher, and so should be mentioned for that. They don't really do any other SF, though.

They used to have more; they were Julian May's publisher, for example. Apparently, they didn't do a good job of promoting their SF list and alienated their authors; May once gave that as her reason for switching to Knopf mid-series. (I guess AAK didn't do any better by her, as the second and third of her books with them were unattractively packaged, and her current series is with Ace.)

-GAWollman

Message-ID: <43223002.C12F1A93@optonline.com> From: Andrew Wheeler <acwhe...@optonline.com> Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.written Subject: Re: Major Publishers Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2005 20:59:46 -0400


The SFBC is owned by Bookspan, which was created by the 2000 merger of Doubleday Book & Music Clubs Inc. (the book club operations of old Doubleday & Co., spun off as its own company after Bertelsmann bought Doubleday) and Book-of-the-Month Inc. (the bookclub operations of Time Inc., a sister company of the Time Warner Book Group). We're thus co-owned by those two media colossi, which is I think unique. (Though the Bertelsmann-affiliate book-club group in the UK, Book Club Associates, was for many years co-owned by Bertelsmann and Reed International -- I think that was all before Reed, a British corporation, merged with Elsevier, a Dutch professional publishing corporation.)

Andrew Wheeler

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