Thomas Nelson (publisher)

Thomas Nelson (Publisher)

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Thomas Nelson (publisher)

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Thomas Nelson is a publishing firm that began in Scotland in 1798 as the namesake of its founder. Its former US division is currently the sixth largest American trade publisher and the world's largest Christian publisher. It is owned by the private equity firm Kohlberg & Company.

In Canada, the Nelson imprint is used for educational publishing by Cengage Learning. In the UK, it was a mainstream publisher until the late 20th Century and is now part of another educational imprint, Nelson Thornes.

British history

Thomas Nelson founded the company that bears his name in Edinburgh in 1798, originally as a second-hand religious bookshop but soon diversifying into publishing reprints of Puritan writers. The firm went on to become a publisher of new books, and as the nineteenth century progressed it produced an increasingly wide range of non-religious materials; by 1881 religion accounted for less than 6% of the firm's output.

By the early twentieth century, Thomas Nelson had become a secular concern in the UK. Until 1968, according to the curators of a Senate House Library exhibition, it "specialised in producing popular literature, children's books, Bibles, religious works and educational texts." It was the first publisher for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Thomson owned the company from 1960 until 2000. That year it was acquired by Wolters Kluwer, who merged Nelson with its existing publishing arm, Stanley Thornes, to form Nelson Thornes.


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