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The Macmillan Diary

with Onome Amawhe
Macmillan, one of the largest and best known international publishing houses in the world is characterized by academic and professional, educational, fiction and non-fiction publishing of the highest quality. Powerful brands owned by Macmillan, such as Nature, Palgrave Macmillan, Pan and Picador are now established in 70 countries. Macmillan also offers high-level publishing services to third party clients.
Since 1999, Macmillan has been wholly owned by the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing group. Macmillan was founded in 1843 by two Scottish brothers, Alexander and Daniel Macmillan. Daniel was the business brain, but it was Alexander who laid the literary foundations.

Their publishing talents were not confined to pure literature; the Macmillan family´s vision inspired the creation of enduring copyrights such as Nature, widely considered the world’s leading scientific journal, launched in 1869, Palgrave´s Dictionary of Political Economy in 1899 and Nursing Times in 1905.  Until recently the publishing company was owned by the Macmillan family, who continued to manage the company into the 1970s.

One of the involved family members was Harold Macmillan, the British Prime Minister from 1956 to 1963 who rose through the Churchill and Eden governments via a succession of high offices, and culminated with his becoming Prime Minister, keeping one of the fullest and most entertaining political diaries of the twentieth century.

Its prominence in trade publishing continues to this day, but it also has great strengths in the educational and scholarly fields. Macmillan Education and its associate companies and subsidiaries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Central America and the Caribbean publish textbooks from kindergarten to tertiary level. Each company designs or adapts materials specifically for local needs and works closely with syllabus advisors and educationalists.

They publish for a wide range of syllabus subjects from English, local languages and social studies to agriculture, health and cartographic materials and all companies can draw on the latest printing and distribution technology.

The company´s philosophy is that successful education must have local roots and be wholly responsive to local needs. Its aim is to not only produce quality textbooks but to train teachers and to act as a facilitator for the development of local publishing skills.The Macmillan Group founder, Daniel Macmillan – the son of a crafter on the Isle of Arran – Scotland was born in 1813.

Daniel died in 1857 leaving the headship of the company to his younger brother Alexander Macmillan. Alexander lived up to 1896, and saw Macmillan confirmed as one of the leading British publishing houses.  Soon thereafter, Macmillan expanded to open overseas companies; among them Macmillan Nigeria which was incorporated in the mid 50s when officials of the Macmillan and Company Limited in the United Kingdom started making occasional business trips to Nigeria. Such visits were undertaken principally to explore the book market of Nigeria for the growth of the British company.

These visits however created local demands for their books, which were met through the few major bookshops then operating in the country.

The publications of Macmillan and Company Limited, London, grew steadily in popularity but as colonialism was drawing to an end in Nigeria, the need for suitable publications by capable indigenous authors who reflect the Nigeria cultural setting became overwhelming. This, therefore, necessitated the establishment of Macmillan Nigeria. In spite of this, the company’s growth is evident even today.

The company is now involved in a lot of local publishing and the subsequent distribution of the product thereof. With sales representatives covering regions all over the country, the company has made remarkable progress, bringing the products even more closer to the Nigerian market.

Today, Macmillan Publishers is the largest group of publishing companies in private ownership in the U.K. The company celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 1993.  Their global staffs are dedicated to continuing to build on the traditions of its long and distinguished past. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. is not to be confused with the former New York-based publishing house, Macmillan Publishing Company.

A few years after World War II ended, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. sold its U.S. Company, which became Macmillan Publishing Company.  It grew to be one of the largest U.S. publishing houses.

Although they shared the Macmillan name, the London and New York Macmillan companies operated entirely independently of each other.  Macmillan Publishing Company ceased to exist as such in the early 1990s.

The assets of the company were sold and divided up, resulting in the use of the Macmillan name on various titles and lines of books which are still in the market today. The original Macmillan Publishers was subsumed into another publisher in 1994.

Macmillan Publishers Ltd was acquired by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH in 1995.  As a result of this acquisition, two U.S. publishing houses, St. Martin’s Press and Tor Books, which were subsidiaries of Macmillan, also became subsidiaries of Holtzbrinck.  They joined with the other U.S. publishers previously acquired by Holtzbrinck to form the U.S. Holtzbrinck group.

The present Macmillan Publishers (formerly Holtzbrinck USA) purchased the rights to the name in 2001 and rebranded itself with it in 2007. From then onwards, an ambitious program to further expand the company on the international stage was implemented.

In particular, the areas of educational and academic publishing developed apace. Pan Macmillan publishes fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Many titles appear under the publishing house’s own name, Macmillan. Pan is the imprint for mass-market paperbacks and for popular general books. Picador is one of the most prestigious literary imprints in global publishing. Pan Macmillan is also a leading international publisher of children’s books.

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online including journals, online databases and services. NPG’s flagship journal Nature is a leading weekly, international scientific journal. Palgrave Macmillan is a global academic publisher serving learning and scholarship in the higher education and professional markets.

The publishing list consists principally of works for college students and for research purposes. Palgrave Macmillan has particular strengths in the fields of the humanities, social sciences, business, and economics.

Macmillan Education is one of the world’s leading publishers of English Language Teaching materials for teachers and students of English as a foreign or second language and of school curriculum materials. Macmillan Education is also now engaged in the Spanish language curriculum markets of Latin America. Macmillan’s Publishing Services division offers book and journal order fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, printing and electronic production, web development and information processing to Macmillan companies and third party clients worldwide, distributing for example the incredibly successful Harry Potter saga for Bloomsbury Publishing. Macmillan has a common identity of interest with the authors and organizations for whom it publishes.

While it enjoys all the advantages of a large international company in marketing, distribution, finance and purchasing, it operates as a network of independent publishers, united in our commitment to quality publishing.

Following the announcement of the Apple iPad on January 27, 2010,—a product that comes with access to the iBookstore—Macmillan gave Amazon.com two options: continue to sell e-books based on a price of the retailer’s choice (the “wholesale model”), with the e-book edition released several months after the hardcover edition is released, or switch to the agency model introduced to the industry by Apple, in which both are released simultaneously and the price is set by the publisher. In the latter case, Amazon.com would receive a 30 percent commission.

Amazon responded by pulling all Macmillan books, both electronic and physical, from their website (although affiliates selling the books were still listed). On January 31, 2010, Amazon choose the agency model and “capitulated” to the change demanded by Macmillan, in spite of Amazon’s belief that the new model leads to e-book prices that are “needlessly high.”


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