Having flagrantly abused the inspection copy policy of academic publishers over the last year I’ve learned a quick rule of thumb for some publishers when looking for certain types of books.
Sage: If you want an excellent selection of research methods & statistics books this is the house to check out first. They have excellent intro books and ones for more advanced users. A bit US-centric though.
Palgrave McMillan: Apparently known as the “premier” academic publishing house, they do fantastic books for lay audiences, and some wonderful “controversial” mental health books (i.e., they piss all over the biomedical model, so immediately gets an A+ from me). If you are interested in social psychiatry, this is the place to go.
Wiley: Does some wonderful specialist books, especially on forensic psychology, as well as what I call the “belts-and-braces” books (i.e., the massive door stoppers that provide wide coverage of an area; the type of book you buy in first year and does you for your entire degree). However, on the latter point, they tend to dodge controversy or do a poor job of providing alternative theories to mainstream ones, and rather uncritically accept mainline theories (i.e., beware the dogma!), and some of their BPS Blackwell books are shockingly bad (and with errors!).
The above houses also have super friendly sales staff. Obviously, it is in their interest to get you to recommend one of their books, but I have found them to be genuinely helpful in recommending books I’d never heard off, and they don’t pester you to recommend.
Penguin: Hands out inspection copies like they are made from fairy dust and unicorn horn (i.e., ye cannae get them), so I’m unlikely ever to read one or recommend one! I don’t actually know why an academic would publish with them if they aren’t willing to hand out inspection copies.
There are obviously tonnes of academic publishing houses, but these are the one’s I’ve had sufficient dealing with (or not, in the case of Penguin) to be able to form an opinion on.