The World’s Largest Book Publishers

Despite concerns about consolidation among publishing houses, sales of the top 10 companies accounted for 55% of revenue of the 50 publishers that are on the list for both 2012 and 2011, down from 57% in 2011. One reason for the decline is the increasing number of publishers from emerging markets gaining sales worldwide. That has been especially true among publishers in the 20th to 50th spots on the ranking; total revenues from those 30 companies accounted for 25% of sales in 2012, up from 21% in 2011.
As has been true in recent years, publishers that specialize in scientific/technical/medical books and journals generated the highest revenue in 2012, followed by education and then trade. There seems little interest among the largest companies to broaden the areas in which they publish; each prefers to focus on one segment. That trend was seen most recently in the U.S., when John Wiley sold off its most consumer-oriented properties to concentrate on professional information. That, of course, is also the path Pearson took with its decision to merge its Penguin subsidiary with Random House, leaving Pearson with only its (very large) educational group. McGraw-Hill Companies also decided that it would be better off focusing on one area, this one outside of publishing altogether—financial services. MHC completed the sale of McGraw-Hill Education in early 2013 to a private equity group (the sale occurred before the final numbers for 2012 were released).
So while the rankings in 2012 are relatively stable compared to 2011, events that began or accelerated in 2012—the announcement of the Penguin–Random House merger; the increase in digital sales outside of the U.K. and U.S., where growth, especially on the trade side, has slowed—are certain to jumble the listings much more in 2013.
The four largest book publishers of 2011 kept their positions last year, a result that led Pearson to retain its crown as the world’s largest publisher in 2012, with total revenues of $9.16 billion. The most significant change among the top 10 companies was due in part to the worldwide success of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which boosted Bertelsmann’s Random House subsidiary from eighth place in 2011 to fifth in 2012 on Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly’s annual ranking of the world’s largest publishers. Below are the 10 largest publishers.
Pearson: Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 48,000 employees in 70 countries and a strong consumer publishing division led by Penguin, which publishes over 4,000 fiction and non-fiction books each year, as well as the Financial Times newspaper (not included in this ranking).
Pearson has seen organic growth and made continuous investments over the past decade, overcoming the economic crisis of 2008 with total revenues of 4.4 billion GBP in 2007 to 6.1 billion GBP in 2012, and with profits rising from 600 million GBP to 950 million GBP.
In May 2013, Pearson announced a new organization structure in order to accelerate their push into digital learning, education services and emerging markets. The change also supports the decoupling of the Penguin consumer publishing business into a separate entity with Random House forming Penguin Random House. Pearson holds 47% in Penguin Random House, the world’s largest consumer book publisher, and 50% stake in the Economist Group, the publishing group which specialises in international business.
Pearson has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It has a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reed Elsevier Group: Reed Elsevier Group is a U.K. company equally owned by two parent companies, Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. Elsevier is the world-leading provider of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services. In 2012, Elsevier’s STM division published 333,000 new research articles in nearly 2,000 journals, with over one million articles submitted for the first time in 2012. Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform is the world’s largest database of scientific and medical research.Elsevier’s Health & Science unit publishes over 20,000 reference titles, with 85% available electronically.
Thomson Reuters: Thomson Reuters provides information for businesses and professionals in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets. Thomson Reuters is a dual listed company consisting of the Thomson Reuters Corporation (Canada), and Thomson Reuters PLC (U.K.). The professional publisher is comprised of four divisions: Financial & Risk, Legal, Tax & Accounting, and Intellectual Property & Science
Wolters Kluwer: Founded in 1836, Wolters Kluwer is a Dutch global information service company dedicated to professionals in the legal, business, tax, accounting, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and healthcare markets. Four divisions provide information, software, and services: Legal & Regulatory, Tax & Accounting, Health, and Financial & Compliance Services. The company operates in over 150 countries.
Bertelsmann: Bertelsmann is an international media company with divisions in broadcasting (RTL Group), print and digital trade publishing (Random House), magazine publishing (Gruner + Jahr), outsourcing services (Arvato), and printing (Be Printers). The company operates in fifty countries. Random House publishing 10,000 titles annually with sales of 400 million copies. The company also publishes 47,000 e-book titles in English, German, and Spanish annually. Printing and publishing division Gruner + Jahr is present in over 30 countries including China, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and France, where the group’s largest foreign company Prisma Média is the second-largest magazine publisher.
Hachette: Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing) is a leading publisher in three key languages: French, Spanish and English. In France, Hachette operates Grasset, Fayard, Stock, Livre de Poche, Lattès, Calmann-Lévy, Larousse, Hatier, Dunod and many others. Outside of France, its main assets include Hachette Book Group USA (Grand Central Publishing, Little, Brown and Company, etc.), Hachette UK (Hodder-Headline, Octopus, Orion, Cassel, etc.), Hachette España (Anaya, Salvat, Bruño), Aique (Argentina), Patria (Mexico), and others.
Hachette also partners with Phoenix Publishing & Media Group in China and holds a 25% share of Atticus in Russia.
As a publisher of high-quality works for the general public, Hachette focuses on general literature, textbooks and illustrated books. Hachette also publishes partworks and booklets to be sold at newsstands. Hachette Livre publishes more than 14,878 new titles every year (2011). The group belongs to Lagardère, a French-based, globally active media group with activities in 40 countries managed by Arnaud Lagardère.
Grupo Planeta: Planeta leads the world’s Spanish-language publishing markets in Spain and Latin America. The company has further strongholds in Portugal and France, where it owns Editis, the country’s second-largest group. Planeta is continuing to expand, with an emphasis on reading groups, international partnerships, and digital, with the creation of e-book distribution platform Libranda.
Grupo Planeta is present in 25 countries, with more than 100 imprints and a catalogue of 15,000 titles
McGraw-Hill: McGraw-Hill Education is comprised of two divisions: The School Education Group (SEG), which provides education material for the elementary and high school; and the Higher Education, Professional and International Group (HPI), which serves the college, university, professional, international and adult education market. McGraw-Hill Education employs more than 6,000 people in 44 countries and publishes in more than 60 languages
Georg von Holtzbrinck: Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH publishing group is a family-owned company headquartered in Germany. It publishes both print and electronic media in more than 80 countries, and serves educational, professional, and general readership markets.
The group’s activities are divided between four areas: Trade Publishing, Education and Science, Newspapers and Business Information, and Electronic Media and Services. Its publishing activities focus on the German, British and US market, and include a large number of imprints, notably in Germany: S. Fischer; Rowohlt; Kiepenheuer & Witsch; and Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur (together with Weltbild). In the U.K., the group owns Pan Macmillan; U.S. holdings include: Macmillan; St. Martin’s Press; Henry Holt; and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The Education and Science division includes The Nature Publishing Group, Scientific American, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, and J.B. Metzler in Germany
Scholastic: Scholastic is the world’s the largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, and was established in 1920. The company publishes and distributes children’s books, educational technology products, and children’s media under five divisions: Children’s Book Publishing and Distribution, Classroom and Supplemental Materials Publishing, Educational Technology and Services, Media, Licensing and Advertising (which collectively represent the Company’s domestic operations), and the International division. Children’s Book Publishing and Distribution account for publication and distribution in the United States through school-based book clubs, school-based book fairs, e-commerce, and trade. Scholastic and its subsidiaries compete in more than 140 counties.

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