The Top Ten Publishers in America

For years, we have said that we are the largest Christian publisher and the ninth largest trade publisher in America. However, I have never really been able to get at the data behind this claim. Now I have it. As it turns out, we are bigger than I thought relative to other trade publishers. We are still the largest Christian publisher, but we are actually the sixth largest trade publisher.

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Over the past several months, we have compiled a proprietary database made up of various point-of-sale databases. It includes all the major retail sales channels. It does not include international, ministry, book fairs, direct-to-consumer sales, etc. If it did, we would be higher on the list because of our robust ministry, school fundraising, and live event sales. Scholastic would also be higher on the list because of their huge book fair business. However, this database only tracks sales through retail channels.

We are now updating this on a monthly basis. As far as I know, we are the only publisher in world who has this information.

Based on the twelve months ending November 30, the top ten trade publishers are:

Top Ten Trade Publishers
1Random House17.2%
3Simon & Schuster9.2%
6Thomas Nelson4.8%
7St. Martin’s3.2%
9John Wiley & Sons1.7%
Total Top Ten67.5%

*Includes Zondervan

The top ten Christian publishers are:

Top Ten Christian Publishers
1Thomas Nelson25.7%
5Broadman & Holman4.0%
7Harvest House2.4%
Total Top Ten80.3%

My goal is for Thomas Nelson to become a top three trade publisher by 2012.

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  • Michael DiMarco



    I posted about this and linked through at my blog.

    BTW, where can I get a log in for that database? :)

    Merry Christmas to you and your girls from me and mine.

    Michael DiMarco

  • Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Michael. Merry Christmas to you and Hayley!

  • Robin Lee Hatcher’s Write Thinking

    by the numbers

    Michael Hyatt at From Where I Sit has a couple of charts in today’s blog post that show the Top Ten Trade Publishers and the Top Ten Christian Publishers. Since shifting my focus from the mass market to the CBA, I’ve written for Zondervan (HarperCollin…

  • Barry A. Smith

    I’ve never understood companies who claim they’re the largest anything, as I’ve never understood to what end this desire to be “larger” plays out in the marketplace. Does communicating bigness play out in consumer marketing or advertising; helpful/effective in your trade business; or somewhere else? I ask because as a consumer, the communication of a company being the largest runs contrary to my desire for distinction, connection and perceived exclusivity. Big makes me think of Microsoft and Walmart. I respect your opinion and this is an honest question. Thanks for your time.

  • MobileRead

    Top 10 publishers in America

    Michael Hyatt, the President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, has provided a list of the top ten trade publishers in America. One might think that this is commonly available information, but he says of his new monthly list, “As far as I know, we…

  • Michael Hyatt


    I agree. Big is not necessarily a benefit. Sometimes, it can be a liability, particularly if the company becomes arrogant or bureaucratic.

    I do think it can translate into a benefit for authors if it leads to broader distribution and more opportunities to exploit content. I think both of these are true in Thomas Nelson’s case.

    I also think it is a benefit to customers if it means they can deal with fewer vendors and get better service because the company has more resources at its disposal.

    I think “big” is only an asset if it is used to benefit others.



  • Barry A. Smith

    Thanks for the quick response.

    Authors makes sense and didn’t come to mind as I considered my comment. I think if I were an author that would indeed factor into the equation.

    Thanks for your willingness to share. Also thanks for the good work you do to spread God’s redeeming message to people all over the world.

  • JD

    How is Zondervan bigger than Tyndale and yet does not show up on the Trade list?

  • Michael Hyatt

    Note the asterisk on HarperCollins and then the footnote. Zondervan is part of HarperCollins, so it is included in the HarperCollins total.

  • Robin Lee Hatcher’s Write Thinking

    by the numbers

    Michael Hyatt at From Where I Sit has a couple of charts in today’s blog post that show the Top Ten Trade Publishers and the Top Ten Christian Publishers. Since shifting my focus from the mass market to the CBA, I’ve written for Zondervan (HarperCollin…

  • Michelle Pendergrass

    “It includes all the major retail sales channels.”

    What is your definition of major retail sales channels?

  • Michael Hyatt

    Retail channels: general trade bookstores, mass market outlets, Christian bookstores.

  • Michelle Pendergrass


    Excellent goal. Thanks for adding in the Christian publishing chart as well.

    I read with interest the series of posts Brandilyn Collins did on the industry, did you catch those?

  • Michael Hyatt


    No, I didn’t. Do you have a link?



  • Michelle Pendergrass
  • Bonnie Calhoun

    Thanks for this information Michael. I like compiling data on the industry. It comes in handy when I run into naysayers about Christian publishing!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Brandilyn Collins

    Congratulations on these numbers. Of course, as a novelist for Zondervan, I can’t let this sit. I do hereby formally challenge you to a duel for the #1 spot in Christian publishing. Z’s gonna beat you to the trigger. In a heartbeat. You game? (BTW, I haven’t quite checked with Doug Lockhart on this duel thing yet. Might wanna give me a few days to talk him into it.)

  • Tamara Paton

    Interesting. Where does Harlequin fit in your list? Would love to understand your methodology better.

    Happy New Year,

  • Michael Hyatt


    I can’t say much about our methodology. It’s proprietary. However, based on our data, Harlequin would be #18.

    Hope that helps,


  • Chris Bennett

    I already finished the book and its self published by author house…It’s called Hangin’ with God (a new form of expression)but since the book got published I’ve been extremely busy trying to make ends meet. Last week at work my friend met a gentleman who had a black American Express card and asked him what he did for a living and he said he wrote children books. How can i use my gift and talent to be published by a company and actually make a living from it?…I seek your mentorship…my email address is tel# 786-390-3172

  • Lemuel

    I write poems and song lyrics. How do I get started in this market.

  • Paul Alaseyori Arazi

    I am writing a christian book on FAITH which i want your commpany to publish.The book will add to your company.I HAVE NOT GIVEN IT TO ANY PUBLISHER YET. contact me soonest


  • Christopher Hopper

    Dear Mr. Hyatt,

    I just found this article tonight, 09.12.08, nearly two years after the fact. Would you happen to have current statistics available? Or perhaps a more recent posting on your blog?

    Many thanks,


  • Bonnie Simrell

    Talking about market share is a very different proposition, however. That's what these data are about.

  • damon

    Hi, I have gone through tremedous difficulties for believing in God in the last 8 yrs.; I am very interested in meeting a literary agent, helping write a book. Difficulties including bombing attempt, coma, shooting attempts, spouse impersonated 60+ times, illegal jail 5x times illegally; and the passing of my Sister, Brother, daughter, and dog.
    My blog is at Google, Blog Search, Andrew Damon Mabraeth.
    Please contact me asap;

    • Ringside222

      God likely has a fairly hard time believing in you! Ya nut case…

  • levent islek

    Hii, this is is Levent Islek and I am about to release my book, The break Inside Me, to the market. My book is decent enough to be a best seller in near future and it is of the best quality in terms of literary technique and plot. My only request from you is to publishe for my book. . thank you in advance for your consideration and wish you the continuation of your success.
    Email: ( tlf, 47/99862632
    ISBN — 978-9944-0116-0-0
    Best Regards,
    Levent Islek.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You will need to contact us via a literary agent. Thanks.

      • Joseph Dumond

        Would West Bow be a literary Agent.
        I have now published two book which are on the market now. But I want this third one I am now in the final edit to be with a major Christian publisher and that looks like it will be you.
        I also feel this book is going to rock the Christian world as it explains subjects that no one has been able to before. Those things sealed until the last days.
        If I submit my manuscript is there any hope if it is worthy, of it being picked up and marketed on a mass scale by Thomas Nelson? And if so what is the process to see if this a way to go.

        • Michael Hyatt

          No, I’m afraid WestBow is not an agent. You will need to read my post, ”Advice to First-Time Authors.”

        • Michael Hyatt

          No, I’m afraid WestBow is not an agent. You will need to read my post, ”Advice to First-Time Authors.”

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  • Babak

    Dear Michael
    What about publishers of academic works and in the education field?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t have a clue. I don’t track them. Sorry.

      • Leventislek

        Hi Micheal,
        You are right at that time, but I learned to write now and we will see in book market. The break inside me, I put trash ans wrote new book, not same before you read, This is 100 prosent different. Very soon you can see in market this book olsa. I’m professional writer right now. I learned my mistake. Ha ha ha,
        take care.

  • Andre J

    If you still believe in God you shouldn’t be writing books.


    I recently finished my book after two years of hard work.  “INNOCENCE DENIED”  “Where Is My Hero?”  I wanted Thomas Nelson to be my publisher but after doing some research I realized I had to have a literary agent for that.  Living on Social Security really doesn’t leave you many options.  My book is a true story of my life.  I am a victorious survivor of child sexual abuse.  Will keep looking until I fine a solution; someone to give me some helpful and useful advice.

  • Jlmg_08

    How about posting the Top 5 Publishing House of 2010?

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  • Lynnefgreen

    I dont think its fair to have to hire a literary agent. There are very good writers with very good manuscripts to be published. Its fine for the wealthy but what about us every day folks?I have a book coming out in app. 2 weeks with westbow Press and I currently have another manuscript to publish.If you are famous or wealthy, you grab them up. What about us?

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  • Harmonpaul

    delete this,your top ten list is out of date,welcome to 2013

  • Ricardo da Mata

    Literature is dead!