In the publishing industry, an imprint can refer to two different things:
- It can mean a brand name under which a work is published. One single publishing company may have multiple imprints; the different imprints are used by the publisher to market the work to different demographic consumer segments. In some cases, the diversity results from the takeover of smaller publishers (or parts of their business) by a larger company. This usage of the word has evolved from the old practice of calling the printing of publisher's name at the bottom of publication's title page an imprint.
- It can also refer to a finer distinction than "edition"—used to distinguish, for example different printings, or printing runs of the same edition, or to distinguish the same edition produced by a different publisher or printer. With the creation of the "ISBN" identification system, which is assigned to a text prior to its printing, a different imprint has effectively come to mean a text with a different ISBN—if one had been assigned to it.
Examples of imprints/publishing brand names
Below are a few examples of imprints (in the meaning of brand names), sorted by publishing company in alphabetical order. It shows the diversity of imprints and how widely they are used in the publishing industry. This list is intended to show examples, not be a comprehensive list, so no more than a few imprints per publishing house are given. Notice that it is possible for imprints to be organized under a publisher that is itself an imprint of an even larger publishing house.
Incorrect use of the word on websites
The word imprint or masthead is sometimes used on international websites. This is usually a mistake based on the incorrect translation of German websites which are required by German law to contain an "Impressum" (legals, website details).