The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014 is out: Consolidation, digital integration, globalization.
June 27, 2014 by ruediger

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 www.wischenbart.com/publishing

Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014 - Top 10. www.wischenbart.com/publishing

Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014 – Top 10. www.wischenbart.com/publishing

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.

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