The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014 is out: Consolidation, digital integration, globalization.

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry has been released today, June 27, 2014.

An initiative by Livres Hebdo, this annual snapshot of the global book business has been updated every year since 2007, and is co-published by The Bookseller, UK, buchreport, Germany, Publishers Weekly, USA, and PublishNews Brazil. It has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting.

The edition of 2014, which is based mostly on revenue reports for 2013, currently represents 56 companies that each report revenues from publishing of over 150 m€ (or 200 m US$). Together, these groups account for with a combined revenue of € 53.641m (as compared to € 56,566 m for the 60 listed companies in 2013, and € 54,303 m for the 54 companies listed in the previous year).

Finad a summary of findings and the top 10 list at

Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014 - Top 10.

Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014 – Top 10.

While overall, the publishing sector shows a remarkable stability in its total volume, the ranking reflects in much detail the ongoing transformation, which is driven Consolidation, digital integration, and globalization.

The expansion of companies from emerging economies (notably the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China), with new entries in the ranks between 21 and 50 – that we had noted last year – slowed down in 2013, mostly because the currencies OF these countries suffer from depreciation against the Euro (and US$), which, at the same time, make imports of books and educational materials more costly for these aspiring societies.

Also, the three main sectors of the publishing industry – professional information & Science-Technical-Medical (STM) publishing –, educational and trade publishing evolve fairly differently, as we can show from the top 10 listed companies.

Among those largest publishing groups, the STM segment accounts for 42 % of the reported revenues, while educational publishing represents over a third, or 35 %, and trade (or general literature) is down to only 23 % of the total value that has been created by the leading actors in international publishing. Notably the gap between the share of educational and trade publishing is opening ever wider, highlighting that “educational” remains the perhaps most competitive sector of the industry.

General trade publishing – which includes fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, young adult, genre fiction and related categories, has seen significant consolidation among major companies lately.

The world’s largest trade publisher, Random House, has not only merged with Penguin, another of the Big Six in general book publishing, in 2013. The publishing group, head-quartered in New York, yet a division of German Bertelsmann media corporation, also has acquired the second largest Spanish trade publisher Santillana, and took over full control over the third largest Iberian group, formerly branded Random House Mondadori, now re-labeled as Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, thereby becoming one of the two leading publishing houses for over 300 million Spanish speakers in the Americas.

HarperCollins has recently acquired the leading publisher of romance literature, Canadian Harlequin. And Hachette Book Group USA decided to takeover the publishing arm of Perseus, the largest group of so far independent US publishers.

It turns out that a growing number among the leading publishing houses consolidates around just one main field of business, be this education (Pearson, Cengage, McGraw-Hill), professional information (Reed Elsevier, Thomson Reuters), or trade (Random House, Hachette).

All these houses have a global approach to publishing, aiming at a stronger integration along the value chain – however mostly without including the last link to the consumer, namely retail. The exceptions to this pattern are to be found in the non-English speaking markets, at Grupo Planeta, at Russian EKSMO-AST, Swedish Bonnier, or Italian Messagerie.

It has been an ambition of this ranking to identify, portray and list publishing companies from outside the traditional main markets of this industry (North America, Europe and Japan), notably by looking at those populous countries with significant economic growth and, subsequently an expanding demand for both education and entertainment, with books and reading occupying a central position in this regard.

It comes at little surprise that in Brazil, China or Russia, to name just three examples, local publishing groups have covered the domestic reading and learning audience for decades, yet so without broader business exchange beyond their national borders. This is about to change dramatically, and in many ways.

All three sampled countries (with India being different, due to its particularly strong ties with British publishing) have seen a few domestic publishing houses to expand strongly, partly fostered, namely in educational, by their governments with state sponsored learning programs and digitization initiatives.

As these emerging economies have seen a period of rapid growth also in their publishing markets, which attracted obviously also international players, who could not expect to find economic growth other than from going global.

And in the case of China, for the past decade the largest buyer of rights and licenses for books, the government even decided to make “going out” – or international expansion – a strategic priority for the strongest Chinese publishing groups.

How 9/11, the economic crisis of 2008 and the Internet conspired to re-invent the business of books in translation. Part01

A summary of the BookExpo America Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation. Wanderlust for the Written Word. (Disclosure: The event was curated by Rüdiger Wischenbart for BEA)

Everybody agreed that at once, books in translation found a way out of their obscure niche. But the question as to how, and why, was already widely debated.

It was an incremental process, as we became more cosmopolitan, found Grand Dame of US international publishing, Carol Brown Janeway of Knopf Doubleday, quoting on the late pioneer Alfred Knopf who had introduced her to the magic of books in translation.

It was 9/11, argued translator Esther Allen, as Americans had to find out more, and more truthful accounts on that wide world that they could not grasp, or even less understand, anymore. So paradoxically, that traumatic event had led to new openings, as the wonderful WordsWithoutBorders initiative, whose Susan Harris reported the why and how details.


Or was it rather the economic crisis of 2008, asked literary scout Maria Campbell, as people were looking beyond the rim of their plate, for stuff that was – not the least argument – also more affordable than a US star author system that had become more and more unaffordable, in terms of extremely high advances – while a similar international talent.

Also the context is helping, we found out, as authors could socialize internationally, helped by a boom of hugely successful literary festivals in many countries. And even editions of classics became more international, and help their publisher’s bottom line as well, as John Siciliano said, as both Penguin’s editor of Classics, and as the one who had acquired a stunningly bold, and young Swiss writer, Joel Dicker, to introduce him as a new rising star to American readers.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” is a wildly successful and acclaimed novel launched in the US only the day previous to that debate at the BEA Global Market Forum: Books in Translation.

Co-published initially by a legendary Swiss small press, L’Age d’Homme, together with a tiny Paris boutique publisher, Bernard de Fallois, is the Wunderkind of the season: A 600+ page thriller and a page turner, backed up by intellectual reflections on the art of writing, and in an about-face, a satire of New York’s machinery of buzz around books, star authors and their vanity.

Joel Dicker, age 28, politely explained at the opening panel of the forum how he crafted this piece, and how important it was to him that this book would be both entertaining and light, and yet stand up to big American contemporary classics such as Philip Roth.

Translations are a growth segment in the publishing business, clearly, which is clearly highlighted by the news of a stunning, yet also somehow logical merger, which was broken at the event by Maria Campbell: Two internationally leading literary agencies join forces, to dwell and develop the resulting opportunities. The Spanish agent Carmen Balcells and London based Andrew Wylie have announced that they are joining forces, creating an international agency, called Balcells & Wylie.

Still, these are yet the conventional elements of how books in translation are currently re-invented. The wide range of innovative initiatives will be documented here shortly in a separate post.

Can we re-frame the debate on translation? Niche, fragmented audiences, global – simply normal!

Talking about translated books was synonymous to complaints – for a long time, and for good reasons. Notably when it is about translations into English.

Only 3% of new titles are translations. Translators are badly paid. Translated works are difficult to sell. Audiences for such works are highly specialized, fragmented, and spread out in a wordlwide geography.

Well, seriously, this is today a normal setting and pre-requisite for publishers for most new books, notably in fiction.

And yet, recently, it has become almost a routine to re-think how authors and readers, for fiction (the full range: from genre fiction to a quick read to high-brow literature) get together.

Plus, translated books, notably novels, have been a big stimulus  throughout the profession of books, internationally. Quoting names like Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo is almost an insult here. Next comes Joel Dicker and the “Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair” (and I am excited to welcoming him tomorrow morning in New York. Here is why:

Bringing good books across linguistic borderlines is currently the goal of many old and new ventures: Both the Big Five global trade publishers as well as scores of start-up companies currently re-invent the rules for translated books in a global reading arena.

These are the topics that we explore and debate tomorrow, Wednesday 28 May, at BookExpo America‘s Global Market Forum, in a full day conference which I had the honour to curate  on “Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word“.

I shall report and summarize the event here.

Re-Framing the debate on translation: How translated books escape the niche, and lots of new ventures replace old gatekeepers

The debate on translation is old – and not always very forthcoming: Translations of (notably fiction) books are seen as difficult to sell, costly to produce (due to the cost of translation), while translators, for good reasons, complain about the low pay. And translations are only a meager 3 percent in English language markets anyway.

Is this the dull end of the story about the value of diversity? Or isn’t this the perfect starting point to re-frame the debate?

Translated fiction has suddenly exploded – say Stieg Larsson, but also that 100 year old guy. Even in the United Kingdom, translated books are cool, as The Bookseller has told us today: “Sales of translated titles surge“. 

At BookExpo America, we work on that topic for over a year now, and have discovered loads of surprises: Those many many new ventures taking translation – and its dissemination – into their own hands (not waiting for gate keepers). Those many translation grant initiatives, from a wild diversity of organizations and countries – which you can use, without giving up control over editorial. How digital and the internat and social media make communication with spread out, fragmented, highly specialized targed audiences the norm – not a pitfall and pain.

A long catalogue of questions, and solutions, has emerged. Followed by enormous response to our initial invitation:

Join us for the Global Market Forum: Books in Translation. Wanderlust for the written word. (Oh, and this is my personal pleasure: The idea about the “wanderlust” came from my US colleagues – making me happy that Kindergarten and Schlagbaum are not the only German words in English!).

For the details, find this nice summary from The Bean – by BEA director Steven Rosato. Or come and debate with us Books in Translation, next week, in New York.

Embracing change and discussing the future of books – cheerfully! Publishers’ Forum Berlin 2014

Back from two days of rich – and entertaining! – debates on the digital transformation of books and reading at Publishers’ Forum 2014 in Berlin, one little remark still resonate particularly strongly in my memory. “Noone was discussing how many percent of revenues come from ebooks”, someone observed at one point. Instead it was all on how to think the future, or how to carefully organize a transition that allows to sustain quality, diversity, and new options. We even had a good laugh, like in this session:


The orange is the ‘new thing’ that the old tower needs to support – and we had to form teams in order to build a solid tower to do that job. (Session run by Béa Beste of Tollabox)

But of course, this fun exercise was well orchestrated between thoughtful key notes and good panel debates on a wide range of topics. I counted almost 40 sessions for the 280 delegates, and frankly, still need to digest what I have heard and seen, bit by bit.

I was really intrigued by the new model for a Social Book, as introduced by Bob Stein, the perhaps best humored visionary I’ve ever met. When you hear the argument that reading is a solidary exercise, by definition – then better think again, and check it out.

Or when you assume that the current consolidation of publishers into huge giants (like the Random Penguin, or more recently Harper’s Harlequin – I realize there is a clear name pattern involved in this buying spree!) comes as a kind of The-End-of-History with regard to publishing and good reading, again, open your eyes, as we were told – by analyst Brian O’Leary, for instance, who gently and smilingly suggested to review copyright, so that meaningful professional publishing can be sustained (!); or by deGruyter’s Sven Fund who simply stated: “We (as publishers; rw) are not on a mission, we are in a service industry.”

What I particularly liked, aside from the fun of tower building (our team came in second, topped by an investor – that’s how it is), was how the long shots were well founded in the practical, how strong ideas were backed up by practical experience, clear information, and common sense.


I will go back to many of the talks, and watch some of the presentations again – slides and videos will be posted soon at the Forum’s website.

I will do so by personal interest and pleasure, but also because I can report an exciting news: From 2015 on, I have been invited to curate the the Publishers’ Forum, following up on what Helmut von Berg has created as the conference’s founding director in over a decade.

He was cheered by everybody for this endeavor in standing ovations. I was moved, really, when some time ago, he had asked me if I would continue in what he had started. I’ll do it as good as I can.

The Global eBook report (update spring 2014) downloaded 1000+ times in just 3 weeks

The spring 2014 update of the Global eBook report has been downloaded over one thousand times within just three weeks of its launch at the London Book Fair on April 8, 2014.

For one more weeks, downloads are free of charge. From May 10, 2014, customers can contribute €9.99 by downloading the Global eBook report in PDF, ePub and Mobi/Kindle format from major retail sites, including Amazon and Apple’s iBookstore, as well as and .

Ebook market developments for the US, UK, Europe, Brazil and India, comparative key data on overall publishing, and the new eBook Yellow Pages: The Global eBook report spring 2014 is ready for download.

The Spring 2014 Release of the Global eBook Report Is Out: Full coverage of recent ebook market developments for the US, UK, Europe, Brazil and India, comparative key data on overall publishing, and the new eBook Yellow Pages included.

The Global eBook report update spring 2014 brings for the first time direct comparative data across markets and players on the evolution of international ebook markets.

The report

Maps, with the best available data, the significant differences, and their root causes, of how major European countries are embracing digital reading;

Highlights earnings from ebooks of the Big Five – the 5 largest trade publishing companies worldwide -, and market shares of Amazon, as compared to local retail platforms.

Shows how emerging markets, led by Brazil and India, engage in approaches of their own, with domestic platforms leading the way in India, while partnerships as well as Apple have gained a lead in the distribution of ebooks – as opposed to Europe and North America, where Amazon clearly dwarfs competition.

The Global eBook report presents a wide selection of case studies, on

The hugely diverging strategies of publishers across Europe in their pricing of ebooks,

The most dynamic expansion of selfpublishing as one by now truly global phenomenon, and

The emergence of new subscription offers – or “Netflix for ebooks” – models as the perhaps next disruptive handle for digital change.

The report can be downloaded from and from major online book platforms, in the formats pdf, ePub and Kindle/mobi.

The next update of the Global eBook report will be due for release in October 2014 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Global eBook report has been started in 2011, and is updated every half year, tracking international market evolution as well as controversies and debates. It is co-promoted by a global network of leading publishing trade magazines and book fairs, including Book Dao (PRChina), Book Industry Magazine (Russia), buchreport (Germany), (Spain), Livres Hebdo (France), Informazioni Editoriali (Italy), PublishNews (Brazil), Publishers Weekly (US), Svensk Boekhandel (Sweden), The Bookseller (UK), the London Book Fair and BookExpo America.

A report by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting

“Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word.” Join us for BookExpo America in New York.

BookExpo America announces speaker list for Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word

The most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and the international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato

 Norwalk, CT, April 2, 2014:  The digital revolution and the new global dynamics in the book trade have re-invented and re-invigorated the translation market.   Authors like Scandinavian crime writers Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo have become global brands.  Established US publishers, as well as many new companies and ventures, build their profiles and programs around translations, bringing literature from around the world and across many languages to American readers. With the help of digital distribution and Internet based social communities of readers, innovative bridges are being be built, creating a new connected environment.   For example, English and Spanish speaking audiences are sharing books, readers and authors as never before.

In a world summit focused on the professional issues and opportunities related to books in translation, BEA’s Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will open a one day conference on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, to explore how these new opportunities can be turned into new business for authors, agents, publishers and translators.  In addition, a dedicated Translation Market pavilion and stage on the BEA show floor will be open during the exhibit show days (Thursday, May 29 – Saturday, May 31), offering publishers a new and low priced format for matchmaking and promoting translated books as well as grants and sponsorships for translations.

“This is the most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato.  “The fact that so many leaders are contributing their time and talent not only validates our efforts but it underscores how rapidly and significantly the translation business is developing.”

Speakers will include executives from the US Big Five publishers, including Carol Brown Janeway of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; John Siciliano of Penguin; as well as representatives from independent presses, including Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions, and Sal Robinson of Melville House.

Several successfully translated authors will be adding their perspective, including internationally acclaimed bestselling writer Joel Dicker, whose The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair will be released in the US at the time of BEA.  Additionally, Marcos Giralt Torrente, the preeminent Spanish author of many books, most notably The End of Love, will also be participating in this year’s forum.  Mr. Giralt Torrente will have three of his books released in English to the US market from three different publishing ventures within a span of 18 months including books from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, McSweeney’s, and Hispabook.      

New opportunities for translations will be discussed, including ways to reach into the huge Spanish language market; significant new translation grants and awards will also be examined and discussed, such as the Russian initiative ReadRussia and its new “Read Russia English-language Prize”, which will be awarded at the time of BEA in New York.  New publishing ventures which specialize in translation, such as the New Vessel Press, will also be the subjects of analysis and discussion.   

The topics and speakers for the Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will be further extended and broadened by members of its own advisory board which includes:  Esther Allen, translator and Associate Professor at the Baruch College, City University of New York; Maria Campbell of Maria B. Campbell Associates; Susan Bernofsky of the Columbia University School of the Arts; Susan Harris of Words Without Borders; Susie Nicklin of the British Marsh Agency; and Ricky Stock of the German Book Office in New York.

The GMF Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word program has been curated by Rüdiger Wischenbart, director of foreign affairs for BookExpo America.  BEA’s initiative on behalf of the Translation Market pavilion will be a permanent feature following the Global Market Forum of 2014, where players from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sharjah (UAE), Spain and the US have signed up as exhibitors.

The Spring 2014 update of the Global eBook report will be released on April 8, 2014

The Spring 2014 update of the Global eBook report will be released on April 8, 2014, with a presentation at the London Book Fair.



The new version will include notably:

  • Latest data, comparisons and analysis on the evolution of ebook markets across Europe and in the US;
  • A comparative analysis of surprisingly diverse strategies of ebook pricing in various markets across Europe;
  • Market updates for Brazil and India;
  • An overview of key activities of global players, notably Amazon, with regard to ebooks, and estimates of market shares in main markets;
  • The newly introduced eBook Yellow Pages (beta), as a listing of companies relevant to ebook developments.

Links to download the report in PDF, ePub and Kindle formats will be available at .

Join us at the London Book Fair for a panel debate, with Javier Celaya of (Spain) and Jens Klingelhöfer of Bookwire (Germany) to discuss current trends and debates.

London Book Fair
April 8, 2014, from 10:00 to 11:00 am
Earls Court, Room Wellington

Support the Global eBook report by booking your advertisement in the eBook Yellow Pages (find details at ) or become a sponsor.

Questionnaire for the Global eBook report update spring 2014: Share your insights, now.

The Global eBook report is updated every half year, to map and analyze the evolution of international ebook markets.

As data are still difficult to find, and ever harder to consolidate, we have built an online questionnaire, for asking industry insiders – publishers, distributors, authors, agents, experts, academics – to share their assessment and their insights, as one key ingredient to the report.

The results from this international survey is critical for the quality of our study.

We therefore ask for your help by both sharing your insights by completing your personal questionnaire , and by forwarding the questionnaires to your colleagues, to widen the contributing community.

Please submit questionnaires before March 7, 2014.

Many thanks for your kind help!

PS: And check out our new feature, the eBook Yellow Pages. Make sure that your company is listed, or even consider buying a personalized advertisement. All details at .

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