In the world of publishing, an imprint roughly refers to a publishing company owned by a larger publishing company.

An imprint is generally a trade name of a semi-independent subsidiary owned by a major publishing company. Much as Pepsi-Cola owns not only Pepsi, but also Aquafina Water and Dole juices, HarperCollins owns Ecco Press, Harper & Row, Greenwillow Books, William Morrow & Company, and a host of others. These companies act as if they are independent companies, each with their own editorial staffs, release lists, and theoretically, target markets. Exactly how independent an imprint is depends on the company that owns it.

Having said that, 'imprint' is not a legal term, and a publisher can declare a new 'imprint' any time they wish to create a new brand, without creating a new company. In the face of such vagueness, imprints exist to the public primarily as brand names -- brands that most people ignore. Some publishers have managed to bring these brands into the public's eye; for example you probably have certain expectations when you hear the name Penguin Books. HarperCollins is currently pushing HarperTeen as an edgy new brand, and specialized publishers, such as Harlequin have imprints with such a tight focus that the romance section of some bookstores are actually organized by imprint. But even so, odds are that no matter how much of a bookworm you may be, you cannot name your favorite imprint.

Im*print" (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Imptrinted; p. pr. & vb. n. Imprinting.] [OE. emprenten, F. empreint, p. p. of empreindre to imprint, fr. L. imprimere to impres, imprint. See 1st In-, Print, and cf. Impress.]


To impress; to mark by pressure; to indent; to stamp.

And sees his num'rous herds imprint her sands. Prior.


To stamp or mark, as letters on paper, by means of type, plates, stamps, or the like; to print the mark (figures, letters, etc., upon something).

Nature imprints upon whate'er we see, That has a heart and life in it, "Be free." Cowper.


To fix indelibly or permanently, as in the mind or memory; to impress.

Ideas of those two different things distinctly imprinted on his mind. Locke.


© Webster 1913.

Im"print (?), n. [Cf. F. empreinte impress, stamp. See Imprint, v. t.]

Whatever is impressed or imprinted; the impress or mark left by something; specifically, the name of the printer or publisher (usually) with the time and place of issue, in the title-page of a book, or on any printed sheet.

"That imprint of their hands."



© Webster 1913.

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