In her blog, agent Lori Perkins said this:
"When I started as an agent in 1987, there were 23 publishers."
Reading that reminded me that I recently came across the sheet of paper on which I listed all the publishers I planned to send my first novel to. The one that bought the novel, Pocket Books, is outlined in red with "2/25/76!" written next to it in big, red letters, and if I understand my cryptic marks, I had queried four publishers on the list before Pocket, so I'm guessing that I made up the list in the summer or fall of 1975.
I don't remember where I got the names from, but I do remember that the publishers on the list were all independent and all said, in some reference book or other, that they were willing to look at science fiction. Many of those names no longer exist at all; some are still in business, but only as imprints or divisions of other publishers. I think there are also a few on the list that still exist but no longer publish fiction. There are 71 names on this list. Probably, an agent of those days, having much more knowledge of the market than I did, would not have been interested in some of those houses, but it's still a long list.
This illustrates how far the number of available markets had shrunk in the twelve years before Perkins entered the business. In her post, she says that it has now shrunk considerably more.
So here's the list. (Some of those names are guesswork, because I can't read my own handwriting!)
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Harper & Row
A. E. Knopf
Lester & Orpen(?)
J. B. Lippincot
Mason & L(?)
New American Library
S. G. Philip
Simon & Schuster
Stein & Day
Walker & Co.
Weybright & Talley