Saturday, September 16, 2017

Global Book Publishing Declines

Seven of the top 10 publishers worldwide suffered a drop in revenue, with the biggest decline coming from the world’s largest publisher, Pearson.

The UK publisher saw a drop in revenue of over one billion dollars – about the total revenue for the 16th largest publisher, Shveisha, in Japan.

The United States only featured two companies in the top 10 – McGraw-Hill and Wiley.  Reed Elsevier of RELX Group, is partially American owned and would represent a third U.S. company in the top 10. The U.S. is also home to the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, in part or whole.

Japan, Germany, U.K. and the U.S. dominate the top 25.

The biggest university press is Oxford University.  With 2016 revenue of 939 million dollars, it is the 20th largest publisher in the world.  It’s larger than Simon Schuster.  Cambridge University Press, in the U.K. is the second largest university press, ranking 36th overall.

German-owned Penguin Random House (Bertelsmann) ranked 4th, with revenue of $3.697 billion.

The publisher to make the biggest leap of the Top 50 in the world is Mondador; of Italy.  It went from 39th to 28th in one year, jumping 11 spots and seeing its revenue exploded by nearly 50% to 501 million dollars.  Other big gainers include Brazil’s Somos, which almost doubled its revenue, South Korea’s Kyouon, and Russia’s Eksmo – AST.

29 of 50 earned less revenue than a year ago.

Just because revenue may have declined for many, doesn’t mean profits sagged.  Further, many of these companies are huge conglomerates and sometimes money on the books looks different than actual transactions that pertain specifically to publishing.  Lastly, there are many more companies not ranked on the list and collectively, they could prove to be profitable, so it’s hard to say with certainty if publishing had a good year, but judging by the big boys, revenue appears to be down.

So what might this mean for the book industry as it seeks growth?

Authors and book publishers continue to chase what sells and will no doubt win big on occasion and then lose on its other bets.  That’s how it’s always been.  

Most books don’t do well but as an industry, the book world can be profitable.

But profits and publishing often don’t get spoken of.  You’re in publishing because you love books.  The key’s not to print them in red ink.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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