• Emma Cohan

The Other Big 5 Publishers... are in Education.

Who knew there was another group of The "Big 5" in publishing revolving around the huge educational market.

Many educational publishers actually dwarf the size of traditional trade presses like the nick named Big 5 and these top five educational publishers are some of the biggest earners in the book industry. These have and will actually impact our children's lives as one of them is the largest publisher of children's books worldwide. I wonder if you can guess it. For my American friends and parents, I'll give you a hint......schools send home a monthly newsletter from this publishing house.

Ready to learn more? let's dive in!

Did you guess which is the big one I was hinting with the monthly school newsletters?

Well It's the one and only Scholastic.

1. Scholastic

Scholastic was founded in 1920 and has remained relatively intact, unlike many other publishers, no one else owns it. Scholastic is the largest publisher and distributor of children's books in the world, with perpetual rights to many of the most famous children’s and YA series of all time, such as Harry Potter (recently acquired from Bloomsbury) and The Hunger Games. It consistently publishes some of the most popular titles in children’s literature.

2. McGraw-Hill Education

As one of the “big five” educational publishers, McGraw-Hill has long played a major part in providing textbooks and other curriculum materials for the K-12 set. It was formed in 1888 by a teacher in New York. While today much of its current strategy focuses on the digital content and technological learning solutions. It still is a serious contender in the textbook publishing category.

3. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Officially formed in 2007 after a merger between Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt. It use to be a subsidiary of Education Media and Publishing Group. HMH now owns itself and all its imprints, which include Holt McDougal and Riverside Publishing. Much like McGraw-Hill, HMH serves the K-12 education market and sees most of its profits from that category. It does publish world wide known book titles like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit along with other children’s titles, general interest subjects and culinary books.

4. Pearson Education

Pearson PLC was once a part-owner of Penguin Random House. Pearson Education division is limited to academic textbooks. They have made great digital strides to stay at the top of the market over recent years. Recently they partnered up with the language learning service DuoLingo to reach more consumers. PE has also established a website-operated textbook rental service. Like other educational publishers, textbooks remain a cornerstone of its business.

5. Cengage

Cengage is an educational publisher that's on the rise. It owns National Geographic Education that develops educational materials for pre-k through 12th grade. It offers online textbooks and other course materials similar to McGraw-Hill. Despite its present business model being digitally based, Cengage has a library division called Gale. Gale is known for their full text magazine and newspaper databases.


There is a lot of disruption happening right now in the book publishing market, as online retailers and self-publishing platforms are changing the outlook for the publishing industry. There is a reason these big 5 educational publishers have stuck around and have dominated for decades. Even with the sale of one major publisher to another, and constant merging, fluctuating, and shifting, one thing is clear—the biggest publishers aren’t going away and I'll be excited to see what new books and authors will be coming out over the next couple of years.

Leave a comment on my facebook page, what is your favorite book?

Thanks for reading,


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