2014 Frankfurt CEO Talk featuring Brian Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer of HarperCollins Publishers.

A debate on consolidation, digital integration, and globalization in publishing, presented by Livres Hebdo, with The Bookseller, buchreport, PublishNews Brazil, Publishers Weekly, and the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club, featuring the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2014.


Wednesday October 8, 2014, from 14:00 to 15:30

Frankfurt Book Fair, Hall 4.0, Frankfurt Business Club.

Brian Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer of HarperCollins Publishers, will be the sole speaker at the Wednesday edition of this year’s Frankfurt CEO talk. The discussion will focus on the current transformation of the global book business.

Murray will be interviewed for 60 minutes by the editors of Livres Hebdo, The Bookseller, buchreport, PublishNews Brazil and Publishers Weekly, in the context of this year’s Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, in cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club. The event will be moderated by Rüdiger Wischenbart. A following 30 minutes Q&A session with Brian Murray will be accessible exclusively to members of the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club.

Since being appointed CEO, in 2008, Murray has led the transformation of HarperCollins from a traditional print publishing company to a dynamic print and digital publishing company generating $200M in digital revenues. Most recently, Brian Murray led the purchase of Harlequin, the internationally leading publisher of romance fiction, the latest in a series of acquisitions under his stewardship.

HarperCollins being a subsidiary of News Corporation, its book publishing activities are immersed in a broader context of a leading global group that includes diversified media, news, education, and information services.

On Thursday October 9, and Friday October 10, additional debates organized by the same partners, will introduce another two leaders of the global book business, with names being announced separately.

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 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.

Questionnaire for Global Ebook report online: Industry professionals invited to share their perspectives.

To update the „Global Ebook“ report, a new questionnaire has been opened. We ask publishing professionals – publishers, distributors, platform and service providers as well as industry experts to reflect their assessment on the evolution of ebook markets globally. https://de.surveymonkey.com/s/Global-Ebook2013 Your valuable input will behighly appreciated.

„The Bookseller“ has joined the network of international media partners for the new „Global Ebook“ report.


Publishing is globalizing NOW. But how does this work, really?

I have spent quite some time lately, in researching and trying to understand how globalization impacts publishing in the various regions. Parts of this is digging up and digesting dry statistics (thanks to the MANY helping hands, and apologies to all where some – hopefully corrected – mistakes have occured).

But of course, desk research has been enlivened by journeys, as most recently and most fascinatingly, to India and to the United Arab Emirates.

Working on export data (from UK/US into various markets), one huge question has formed in my mind:

Over the past decades, these exports have grown significantly overall, being one of the best indicators for that globalization. Yet this obviously must have produced contrasting patterns:

In some places, this has certainly supported growth of a domestic  publishing scene (e.g. in China), while in other regions, the growth of imports seems to have coincided with a significant decline of an often well established book trade (e.g. in several Arab countries – for a mix of factors and reasons).

While I am working on a first analysis of all this, I am highly curious to learn more on how imports and exports have influenced domestic markets internationally, over the past decade or so.

BookLab relaunched

After a lengthy silence, while traveling a lot, and exploring how globalisation and digital, how emerging markets as well as these old main markets change radically, this blog is bound to be lively again. Check it out, tweet and facebook or LinkIn its exploits. In any case, stay tuned.

Ruediger Wischenbart

In Germany, Amazon is one of the top 3 booksellers

The German book trade magazine buchreport published its yearly ranking of the top 50 German language book retailers (chain stores as well as local chains) emphasizing once again the dynamics of market consolidation.

The 2 leading chain stores, Thalia (a division of perfume retailer Douglas, with book revenues of 801 m Euros) and DBH (the combined Hugendubel and Weltbild groupformed only in 2006, with revenues of 711 m Euros) are way ahead of the rest of the pack. Their closest competitor Mayersche has only 145 m Eros in revenues.

 Well, this is not entirely true, as online retailer Amazon released its sales figures for Germany of 1,48 bn $ or roughly 1 bn Euros in revenues in 2007 (it was 1,1 bn in 2006 – or up 31 % with currency exchange effects taking into account). (Figures reported on 3 March 2008 by Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – available online on subscription only)

Acknowledging that Amazon sells a lot more than just books and other media, with estimates guessing that all media combined represent ca. 60 % of Amazon’s German sales, this puts Amazon at least at #3 in Germany, and probably as the retail book and media company with the most dynamic prospects of groth.

Blogging – the Elite Way

Apologies for being a lazy blogger, but here I can report on a curious and multi facetted battle in German print culture.

A few weeks before Jonathan Littell’s originally French novel „Les Bienveillantes“ („The Kindly Ones“) is due for release in German translation at Berlin Verlag, the prestiguous conservative broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) starts not only to run daily small doses of the book in their culture pages. They also started, attatched to the serialisation, a brand new „Reading Room“ with online comments about the book that has a considerable potential for controversy particularly in Germany as it is the (fictitious) autobiography of Max von Aue, an SS nazi officer involved in the Holocaust.

To avoid the risk of uncontrolled or just plain stupid comments, the editors of the newspaper opted for an original version of a blog – by inviting 8 experts to write about Littell, all of them male, mostly professors, and in their 60s.

What would seem only a bit odd, in the light of usual blogging culture, is even more remarkable as only a few weeks ago, FAZ, had launched a furious anti-blogging, anti-stupid-online-posting and anti-„swarm culture“ campaign in its pages. It all started with FAZ’s co-publisher Frank Schirrmacher writing a particularly angry piece about a colleague’s unfortunate (and less than brilliant) video blog in the weekly „Die Zeit“ on youth violence and the wave of hate posts that this blog had stirred up. (For a balanced summary, see the neutral Swiss NZZ)

For Schirrmacher, the reader’s comments were just the last evidence for how the „swarm“, meaning the reading audience let lose, was bringing about the end of (a) culture, (b) decency and how (c) „quality journalism“ was the only force left to defend the holy grail of Western civilised debate.

As this was not enough, FAZ had another one of its staff writers, adding a last and truly final judgment about all that controversy, and the internet and its users with it. Under the headline of „Disgusting and Totalitarian“ (yes!), Christian Geyer not only saw an entire „political culture in danger“, but chose to call those readers who had angrily posted their comments against the professional journalist’s op-ed furor „mob users“, and urged any responsible media to, in the future, make sure that such „dirt and garbage“ is not published anymore.

With this elite version of blogging, as set up by the quality paper on behalf of the Littell novel, we are now shown how we can save our minds, namely by reading the erudite words of selected professors.

Oh, thank you, we had almost forgotten what had made the blogosphere such a thriving and fascinating space in the first place.

Podcast on „Mapping English Reading Markets“ available now

Over the past several years, English language books have been given increased shelf space in traditionally non-English reading countries. As this trend continues, publishers are searching for more ways to infiltrate these new markets.

We could organize a first set of expert panels to map thsi 3 bn $ market at BookExpo America in New York in June 2007. Participants include Pascal Zimmer, Libri Germany, Francoise Dubrouille ,International Booksellers Federation, Esther Allen, Columbia University, und Peter Clifton, Ingram International.

You can listen to the panel debate at the Podcast

About saying ‚me‘ differently

I was really puzzled when I realized the amount of interest (and feedback) I had the other day with a piece written for Publishers Weekly about how autobiographies are classified in different ways in the AngloSaxon world, and in the rest of Europe:

While Americans and Brits expect writers of autobiographies to say the truth, somehow, in France, Spain or Germany, those same books are routinely classified as fiction.

Think of German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass’s autobiography „Peeling the Onion“, which was released last week and promoted with a talk between Grass and Norman Mailer in New York, a book reveiling the fact of Grass, the moralist, having been a member of Nazi Waffen SS as a youth, which of course was listed as fiction in Germany last year. Or even more stunning, John Grisham’s The Invisible Man, an essay against the death penalty – again read as a book of fiction in Europe due to the author being a writer of novels primarily. 

One of my interview partners for the piece, Bernhard Fetz, a Vienna-based researcher with the Austrian National Library, and a specialist in the genre, pointed to a pretty  complex set of traditions beneath the odd differences in classification, as he told me:

„The differences of perception go back to antagonistic traditions in philosophy and cultural history: While Germany, or France, have a mostly idealist tradition in culture, Britain, and hence the U.S., have always had a more pragmatic approach. Essays by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or Goethe, always combined factual accounts with personal intuitions and selfreflections of the author, giving autobiographies also a political angle by defining a life story as exemplary for a nation. The Anglo-Saxon tradition was instead much more and much earlier influenced by science, and therefore supposed to rely on facts, and less on intentions, Fetz says.

Amazing, I think, and you understand why reading the same book in different cultural surroundings may provide a very different read (and understanding) indeed!

My loss

I don’t need to tell you more than the fact that I lost almost my entire virtual capital on the betting scheme for the Ingeborg Bachman award (see previous post), while the crowd at large narrowed their focus in an impressive curve steadily onto the winner Lutz Seiler (hence giving up in continuous, yet opportunistic – oh yes! – moves on its initial hero who was PeterLicht, a writer performer who wouldn’t reveil his face to cameras).

In fact we know about the impressive likelyhood of such crowds to demonstrate their collective wisdome since the mid / late 1990s when similar betting schemes proved to be usually more successful e.g. in predicting the outcome of general elections.

But what does that mean to all of us experts, in one field or another! Hélas, aren’t we happy to be asked for our insights every once in a while nevertheless? Lucky us.

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