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Old 09-20-2016, 10:41 AM   #1
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The size of current-day companies

I've been on an organizing spree the last few days, and therefore I'm setting metadata on many books. One of the entries is of course "Publisher."

I have decided to enter the publisher that is mentioned in the eBook.*

Doing this I've noticed that some companies have become a bit... huge.

Publisher: Del Rey.
Which is owned by: Ballantine.
Which is owned by: Random House
Which is owned by: The Penguin Random House Group
Which is owned by: Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

Of course, Bertelsmann has other parts besides Penguin Random House, and Penguin Random House Group obviously has both Random House and Penguin as publishing houses, who both have branches like Ballantine, who each have publishers like Del Rey...

Isn't that a bit excessive? Is a company such as Bertelsmann (and News Corp, as well), too big? To be honest, I have a feeling that in the end, nothing good can come of it. That's just too massive to be one company, with too much influence. There are of course companies like that outside the world of media; in electronics, or medicine; basically everything, in the end, seems to conglomerate into 1-3 huge companies.

*
Spoiler:

There are of course many options.
- Enter the original, first known publisher.
- Enter the publication date of the eBook, or the first known publication.
- Enter the ISBN number from the eBook, or the first known one.
- Find the matching cover for said ISBN, or your own.
- Etc.

I've decided to enter the data that is in the eBook, but to use the first known publication date, and a cover that I like, so that I can match up all the books in one series.

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Old 09-20-2016, 11:08 AM   #2
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That's why they are called the big 5 publishers. There is actually a number of reasons why the publishers all got gobbled up into a few big conglomerations. Some of it is economy of scale. Some of it is the current tax laws. Some of it is that the current business model in the entertainment industry seems to favor having 3 to 5 companies. The music industry and movie industry is actually pretty similar.
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Old 09-20-2016, 11:26 AM   #3
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The Big 5 (formerly 6) now seem to be:

HarperCollins
Penguin Random House
Hachette
Simon and Schuster
MacMillan

If I discount my Forgotten Realms section (310 books by Wizards of the Coast), I think that 95%+ of the remaining books is published by a division of either HarperCollins, or Penguin Random House. I only have 5 books by MacMillan (actually: Picador, which is a MacMillan subsidiary), and I have none by Hachette or simon and Schuster. Maybe they just don't sell anything in the genres I read.

(edit: It seems Tor is part of Macmillan, and Orbit is part of Hachette. I thought they were still independent.)

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Old 09-20-2016, 12:11 PM   #4
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Doing this I've noticed that some companies have become a bit... huge.
The Randy Penguin alone has over 250 different imprints when taking all of their divisions/publishing groups into account.
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Old 09-20-2016, 02:09 PM   #5
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The Randy Penguin alone has over 250 different imprints when taking all of their divisions/publishing groups into account.
A lot of the imprints of old were actually part of a larger publisher. For example, Tor was started in 1980 by Tom Doherty. It was bought by St. Martin's Press in 1987, (started by Macmillian in 1952). Macmillian was bought by Holtzbrinck in the late 90's.

Ace started in 1952. It was bought by Grossett & Dunlap in 1972. Eventually, it became part of Berkley and then Penguin.

Given how the book world works, with advances and the like, it's very useful to have a parent company to prevent the cash short falls that can occur as various authors come and go.
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Old 09-20-2016, 02:28 PM   #6
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The majority of the books I buy are self published. I also read a lot of public domain books.

The size of the doddering old legacy publishers doesn't bother me even slighty, because their ability to be a gatekeeper has vanished.
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Old 09-20-2016, 02:41 PM   #7
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I'm trying to catch up on a lot of old fantasy that I couldn't really read when it was released, as I wasn't even born yet (70's), way too young (80's), or already swamped with required reading from school (90's). I actually only started to read for my own pleasure at around 1999-2000. (I was lucky that I enjoyed most of the required reading for school... except basically the newer Dutch works.)

Most of the works I'm reading are by authors that were active in the 70's and 80's (and some are active still), and thus I buy a lot of stuff from the big publishers.
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:41 AM   #8
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I'm trying to catch up on a lot of old fantasy that I couldn't really read when it was released, as I wasn't even born yet (70's), way too young (80's), or already swamped with required reading from school (90's). I actually only started to read for my own pleasure at around 1999-2000. (I was lucky that I enjoyed most of the required reading for school... except basically the newer Dutch works.)

Most of the works I'm reading are by authors that were active in the 70's and 80's (and some are active still), and thus I buy a lot of stuff from the big publishers.
There is a lot of really good books from that era since that seemed to be the hey day of fantasy. I really started getting into fantasy during that time period. Most of it is available as ebooks, though I'm still looks for a few. Zelazny is the primary missing piece for me.
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Old 09-22-2016, 04:38 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
I've been on an organizing spree the last few days, and therefore I'm setting metadata on many books. One of the entries is of course "Publisher."

I have decided to enter the publisher that is mentioned in the eBook.*

Doing this I've noticed that some companies have become a bit... huge.

Publisher: Del Rey.
Which is owned by: Ballantine.
Which is owned by: Random House
Which is owned by: The Penguin Random House Group
Which is owned by: Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

Of course, Bertelsmann has other parts besides Penguin Random House, and Penguin Random House Group obviously has both Random House and Penguin as publishing houses, who both have branches like Ballantine, who each have publishers like Del Rey...

Isn't that a bit excessive? Is a company such as Bertelsmann (and News Corp, as well), too big? To be honest, I have a feeling that in the end, nothing good can come of it. That's just too massive to be one company, with too much influence. There are of course companies like that outside the world of media; in electronics, or medicine; basically everything, in the end, seems to conglomerate into 1-3 huge companies.

*
Spoiler:

There are of course many options.
- Enter the original, first known publisher.
- Enter the publication date of the eBook, or the first known publication.
- Enter the ISBN number from the eBook, or the first known one.
- Find the matching cover for said ISBN, or your own.
- Etc.

I've decided to enter the data that is in the eBook, but to use the first known publication date, and a cover that I like, so that I can match up all the books in one series.
These companies are big, but they are not the hugest of all times. E.g the Dutch East India Company was worth several times the value of Google. I found that out on quora.
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Old 09-22-2016, 05:20 PM   #10
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As if buying MySpace didn’t cement News Corp. as a maverick, Murdoch & Co. last year pledged to go carbon neutral by 2010, launched the Fox Business Network, and, oh yeah, snapped up Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:00 PM   #11
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the Dutch East India Company was worth several times the value of Google.
It would be far more accurate to compare The Dutch East India Company, and similar mercantile states with Singapore, or the People's Republic of China, than with Google, Apple, etc. (Unfair comparison with PRC. That country wouldn't tolerate the degree of incompetence, especially for port maintainence, that the Dutch East India Company endured.)

Another difference is that The Dutch East India Company had its own troops to demolish local opposition. Somehow, I can't see any current nation state looking favourably on Apple or Google for destroying the employees of their competitors.

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Old 09-23-2016, 02:07 PM   #12
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except basically the newer Dutch works.
The only people that read newer Dutch works, are people who are paid to read them, knowing that they will never get their money's worth out of the material.

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Old 09-23-2016, 05:13 PM   #13
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These companies are big, but they are not the hugest of all times. E.g the Dutch East India Company was worth several times the value of Google. I found that out on quora.
As I understand it, the Dutch East India company was the first of what we would now call a corporation. How big it would be by comparing it to current-day companies, I don't know. It *was* huge, that's true enough.

Since about 1550 up to around 1750, the Netherlands were arguably one of the most powerful countries in the world, along with the British Empire, Spain, and Portugal.

All of the Dutch sea faring trade eventually conglomerated into the VOC around 1600, and the Netherlands was at the peak of it's power during +/- 1600-1700; also called the Golden Age, because of the VOC company.

Although the Dutch also did some things during that time that were... uh... somewhat less ethical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiat_Lux View Post
Another difference is that The Dutch East India Company had its own troops to demolish local opposition. Somehow, I can't see any current nation state looking favourably on Apple or Google for destroying the employees of their competitors.
While one company doesn't destroy, kill or murder employees of other companies, they do steal them, with better salaries or better secondary conditions. Sometimes they do it even though the employee doesn't add a lot to company A, but him or her not being at company B is sometimes such a huge advantage to Company A that they steal/entice him/her away anyway.

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The only people that read newer Dutch works, are people who are paid to read them, knowing that they will never get their money's worth out of the material.
LOL. I've read a lot of older Dutch works, written before 1900, and enjoyed most of them. I hated almost every single Dutch work I had to read which was written after 1920... especially those by Gerard Reve and Harry Mulish.

I even tried to read some fantasy and Sherlock Holmes in Dutch once... but it just doesn't work. It just feels contrived, blasé, and unnatural... childish even, sometimes.

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Old 09-23-2016, 06:27 PM   #14
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I'm trying to catch up on a lot of old fantasy that I couldn't really read when it was released, as I wasn't even born yet (70's), way too young (80's), or already swamped with required reading from school (90's). I actually only started to read for my own pleasure at around 1999-2000. (I was lucky that I enjoyed most of the required reading for school... except basically the newer Dutch works.)

Most of the works I'm reading are by authors that were active in the 70's and 80's (and some are active still), and thus I buy a lot of stuff from the big publishers.
Could you recommend some good works from the period? I missed most of it too (I grew up in the Soviet Union and fantasy was a frowned-upon genre there, so very little fantasy was locally available in those times). I did read some fantasy from the 80's later on, mostly as used paperbacks. Generally I find that I like newer fantasy better, but there might be many good authors I'm not even aware of.
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Old 09-25-2016, 12:24 PM   #15
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From the 70's, I don't know many authors yet.

From the 80's, good starting points would be "The Belgariad" and "The Malloreon" by David Eddings. You could also read "The Elenium" and "The Tamuli", also by Eddings, but you would recognize a lot of concepts from the other two works. Some things are are actually *VERY* similar.

If you're reading Eddings, skip "The Dreamers." Seriously. It's a four book series, but it's basically half the characters (with matching traits) of "The Elenium". Book 1 is OK-ish (but just), with Book 2 you're thinking: "Didn't I just read that in Book 1... in a different part of the same world?" and by Book 3 you're ready to shoot yourself. Or worse. It's the only series I actually abandoned and didn't buy in ebook format.

I hear "The Dreamers" is now used as torture material in prisons around the world by broadcasting the audiobook version over the prison's intercom speakers.

A very good book is "The Elfstones of Shannara" from 1982 by Terry Brooks. While it's not the first book in the trilogy, it's a better, more original book that its predecessor "The Sword of Shananra" from 1977. Of "Sword", it's said that it's a rip-off of Tolkien. While I wouldn't go THAT far, the similarities are unmistakable. "Elfstones" is a book that can stand on its own. It's actually my favorite book, despite the fact that the title is wrong (the plot is NOT about the Elfstones... those are just a plot device), and that it has at least two very annoying characters. The best part of this book is the ending. It's a plot twist you'll probably remember for the rest of your life.

If you like shared worlds, you can look into R.A. Salvatore's first six Drizzt books, from the late 80's and the early 90's:

1. The Crystal Shard
2. Streams of Silver
3. The halfling's gem
4. Homeland
5. Exile
6. Sojourn

Book 4-6 are a prelude to book 1-3. Many people nowadays read the trilogies the other way around: 4-5-6, 1-2-3, so they're in chronological order. At this time, that is also the official series order of "The Legend of Drizzt"

Two series on my "soon to read list" are The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (starting in 1977, with "Lord Foul's Bane"), and the "Darwath" series by Barbara Hambly, starting in 1982 with "The Time of Dark." I haven't read those yet.

From the 70's, I only read Mary Stewart's The Arthurian Saga, which is a fantasy series based on the legend of King Arthur. I read them a long time ago, in paper, in Dutch, from the library. I don't even know if they are still in print and if there are official ebooks of this series.

Last edited by Katsunami; 09-25-2016 at 05:59 PM.
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