HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the largest publishing companies in the world, one of the “big five” English-language publishers, along with Hachette, Holtzbrinck/Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. The headquarters of the company is located in New York. Is a subsidiary of News Corp. The company name is a combination of the names of several publishing firms: Harper & Row, whose name was the result of an early merger between Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company, and the British publishing company William Collins, Sons.
The executive director of the publishing house is Brian Murray. HarperCollins has publishing operations in 18 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India. The company publishes under many different imprints, both former independent publishers and new ones. The company’s turnover in the 2015-2016 fiscal year was $1.646 billion out of $8.292 billion of News Corp’s turnover as a whole.
Harper Publishing was founded in New York in 1817 by brothers James and John Harper under the name J. & J. Harper. Later, their younger brothers Wesley and Fletcher started working in it, and from 1833 it was called Harper & Brothers. In the 1840s, such books as Thackeray’s Fuss Fair, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights became bestsellers, and in 1844, Harper’s Illustrated Bible was released. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (Harper’s Magazine) was launched in June 1850. By December 1853, the Harper Company had 41 printing presses. The machines worked 10 hours a day and produced 25 books per minute, the company’s turnover reached $2 million per year. However, on December 10, 1853, the publishing house almost completely burned down, the losses exceeded $1 million, including insurance coverage of only 20%. Only a year and a half later, the publishing house resumed work in two new buildings on Franklin Square[en]. In 1857, another magazine, Harper’s Weekly, was founded, and in November 1867 – the third, Harper’s Bazar (later Harper’s Bazaar). In 1867 James Harper died, in the 1870s his three brothers died and the publishing house passed to their children. In 1895, a contract was signed with Mark Twain for the exclusive right to publish his books.
Despite the fact that by the end of the 19th century, the name Harper had become almost synonymous with publishing in the United States, the company periodically encountered financial difficulties. In 1896, Harper & Brothers became a joint-stock company and received financial support from John Morgan, but this did not save the company from bankruptcy in December 1899. Control of the company passed from the Harper family to Colonel George Harvey with the approval of Morgan and other creditors. In the first fifteen years of the 20th century, Harvey tried to restore the reputation of the publishing house, somewhat tarnished by bankruptcy, by arranging lavish banquets for statesmen, famous authors and the New York elite. However, this did not help solve financial problems, in 1913 Harper’s Bazar magazine was sold, and in May 1915, Colonel Harvey was replaced by Clinton Brainard. Brainard’s policy was aimed at reducing the company’s debt, but his success was questionable: in 1916, Harper’s Weekly was sold, and such writers as Theodore Dreiser, Joseph Conrad, and Sinclair Lewis left the publishing house. In 1923, the Franklin Square buildings were sold to J.P. Morgan & Co. for $400,000, and the publishing house moved to 49 East 33rd Street.
In April 1962, Harper & Brothers merged with Row, Peterson & Company (an Illinois textbook publisher) to become Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. Over the next two decades, several publishing houses were absorbed, such as T.Y. Crowell (1977), J.B. Lippincott (1978), Zondervan Books (1988) and Scott, Foresman (1989), in 1983 Harper shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In March 1987, Harper & Row Publishers was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s conglomerate for $300 million.
William Collins, Sons was founded by William Collins in 1819 in Glasgow. At first, the company published only dictionaries and Christian religious literature. In 1840-1842, the publishing house began to publish illustrated dictionaries, received a license to print the Bible.
After his resignation in 1846, William’s company was taken over by his son William II, who began publishing Shakespeare’s works and literature accessible to the masses. In 1856, the company began producing atlases and still maintained a monopoly on Bible publishing. In 1872-1879, branches were opened in Australia and New Zealand. After the death of Wilhelm II, in 1895-1906, management passed to his son – Wilhelm III, who introduced children’s fiction to the company. After William III, his nephews – William IV and Godfrey – became rulers. Godfrey developed the direction of “books for millions” – cheap editions of classic literature. The first offices were opened in South Africa and South America.
In 1919, Collins published her own original fiction. Authors later published by William Collins, Sons included writers such as C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, and J.R. Tolkien. In 1981, there were changes in the company’s shareholders — the family sold its share to Rupert Murdoch.
Mergers and acquisitions
In 1989, Collins was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and merged with Harper & Row. Not only the names of the publishing companies were combined, but also their logos, which formed a stylized image of a flame on top of a wave. In 1999, News Corporation acquired the Hearst Book Group, consisting of William Morrow & Company and Avon Books. These brands are currently imprints of HarperCollins.
Continuing to expand the publishing house, in 2011 HarperCollins acquired the Thomas Nelson publishing house. The deal was finalized on July 11, 2012, with the announcement that Thomas Nelson Publishing, given its position in Christian publishing, would retain independent management. Thomas Nelson and Zondervan have been reorganized into a new group of imprints – HarperCollins Christian Publishing. The key role of the reorganization was played by the former managers of Thomas Nelson.
In 2014, News Corp bought the Harlequin publishing house based in Toronto (Canada), which was previously owned by Torstar Corp (publisher of Canada’s most popular newspaper, the Toronto Star). The main direction of the Harlequin publishing house is women’s novels. The amount of the deal was 415 million dollars. The Harlequin publishing house was founded in 1949 and has printed 6 billion books during its history.
Closing of USA warehouses
HarperCollins warehouses in Williamsport and Grand Rapids were closed in 2011-2012. In November 2012, the Indiana shipping and storage operations were merged with R.R. Donnelley, closing two HarperCollins warehouses. The Scranton, Pennsylvania, warehouse closed in September 2013, and the Nashville, Tennessee, warehouse closed in winter 2013. Several offices and divisions of HarperCollins continue to operate in Scranton, but in a different location. The closing of the Scranton warehouse eliminated about 200 jobs, and the closing of the Nashville warehouse eliminated up to 500 jobs (the exact number of book distribution employees is unknown).
HarperCollins is the second-largest division of Rupert Murdoch’s media holding, News Corp, behind its newspaper division, which includes a number of major newspapers in the US, UK and Australia. In turn, HarperCollins consists of the following divisions:
- HarperCollins Canada is a Canadian division that has survived from the days of William Collins, Sons & Co. Ltd.
- HarperCollins Children’s Books – books for children.
- HarperCollins Christian Publishing – formed on the basis of Thomas Nelson’s publishing house, founded back in 1798; headquarters in Nashville (Tennessee).
- HarperCollins Australia – the basis of the Australian division is the 1989 absorption of the Sydney-based publishing house Angus & Robertson (founded in the 1880s).
- HarperCollins India – was launched in 2003 as a joint venture between Living Media and HarperCollins. This merger made HarperCollins India a major publisher in India. HarperCollins took full control of the company in late 2012.
- HarperCollins UK – division in Great Britain. It publishes around 1,000 titles a year and employs 900 staff in London, Glasgow and Honley.
- Harlequin is headquartered in Toronto. It publishes an average of 110 titles of books per month in 34 languages in 110 countries.
About 99% of HarperCollins books are published in English (except for Harlequin, which publishes 40% of books in other languages). The company also has branches in non-English-speaking countries: HarperCollins Germany (Germany), HarperCollins Español (books in Spanish, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee), HarperCollins Ibérica (Madrid, Spain), HarperCollins Japan (Japan), HarperColl , HarperCollins Nordic (Scandinavia ), HarperCollins Polska (Poland).
The HarperCollins title catalog includes about 200,000 items, of which 100,000 are available in electronic format. E-book sales (including audio books) in the 2015/16 financial year accounted for 19% of total revenue of $1.646 billion.