American Book Company (1890)

The American Book Company (ABC) was an educational book publisher in the United States that specialized in elementary school, secondary school and collegiate-level textbooks. It is best known for publishing the McGuffey Readers, which sold 120 million copies between 1836 and 1960.[1]

American Book Company
FounderVan Antwerp, Bragg and Co., A.S. Barnes & Co., D. Appleton and Co., and Ivison, Blakeman and Co.
SuccessorD. C. Heath and Company
Country of originUnited States
Publication typesbooks


American Book Company was formed in 1890 by the consolidation of Van Antwerp, Bragg and Co., A.S. Barnes & Co., D. Appleton and Co., and Ivison, Blakeman and Co.[2] It was acquired by Litton Industries in 1967[3] and existed as a division of Litton Educational Publishing, Inc. until being sold to the International Thomson Organization in 1981.[4] Thomson then sold its American Book Company K-12 assets to D. C. Heath and Company in 1981. The company was absorbed into D. C. Heath and ceased to exist as an imprint. Any remaining K-12 assets of the American Book Company are now owned by Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which acquired D. C. Heath and Company in 1995.

Many of the college level textbook rights of ABC/Litton were sold by International Thomson as well, to Van Nostrand Reinhold, though some[5][6] remained under the Wadsworth imprint at Thomson, which is now Cengage Learning.


  1. "McGuffey Readers World". The Paradigm Company. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  2. "American Book Company Records". Syracuse University Library.
  3. Betsky, Seymour (September 1983). "American Literature in the Marketplace. Literature and Cultural Inquiry". Higher Education Quarterly. Blackwell Publishing. 37 (4): 320–340. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2273.1983.tb02009.x.
  4. Kleinfield, N. r (1981-01-29). "Litton Plans Publishing Group Sale". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
  5. "Great Traditions in Ethics". Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  6. "Great Traditions in Ethics". Cengage Learning. Archived from the original on 2008-04-18.

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