The Global eBook report 2017 is out

The Global eBook report 2017 is a standard reference for international market developments in digital consumer books.

  • Overall market trends for print and digital in the Americas, Europe and Asia;
  • New and more detailed ebook sales trends across key markets;
  • In depth analysis on how genre, price and sales channels drive, and differentiate, ebook markets;
  • Critical analysis on global players (Amazon, Kobo) and new market models (e.g. self-publishing)

Get your copy of the report at for only € 20, or take a look at the executive summary and table of content free of charge.

The big are getting bigger. Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2016 released

The Global Ranking 2016, which is based predominantly on 2015 revenue data, lists (or is describing) a total of 57 publishing groups, as in 2014 and 2015, with a combined revenue of m€ 63,739 (up 8 % from 2014, and a staggering 22 % over 2013).

In its 10th iteration, the current transformation of the international book business is reflected in much detail.

After years of relative stability, the reported results for 2014 and now even more dramatically for 2015 show a clear strengthening at the top, with the 10 largest groups accumulating revenues of €34.2bn (up 8 % from 2014, and up 17 % from 2013), and accounting now for 54% of the 50 largest groups described in this ranking, in a continuing increase since 2013.

Over the years, the trend of the biggest growing ever bigger, becomes clear, and ever more so as all of the companies listed in this Ranking are already a selection of the market leaders in the respective territories and segments of the industry.


The top segment of the 10 largest conglomerates in publishing highlights a number of developments:

  • The top 5 have not changed for the past 3 years (with the small exception of ThomsonReuters and RELX changing positions in 2013 and 2014);
  • All the top 10 have seen yearly increases in revenue for the past 3 years, with the exception of Hachette, as it had a slump in 2014 that however was fully compensated in 2015, and McGraw-Hill Education, as it currently undergoes a complete makeover from being acquired and re-positioned by private equity;
  • As in previous years, the very top is, and remains, clearly a domain of actors specialized in either educational (Pearson) or scientific and professional information (ThomsonReuters, Reed Elsevier – now rebranded as RELX -, or Wolters Kluwer).
  • Developments at the largest general trade publishers are more mixed, yet with several companies back in growth, from both increasing sales and through acquisitions.
  • China’s leading publishing groups continue mostly to expand.
  • Brazil’s publishing industry has fallen behind, caught between the severe domestic economic crisis, and a loss of the Brazilian currency, driving down their representation in a ranking that is measuring in Euro (or US dollars).

The recent financial evolution in publishing shows all but a level playing field.

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry is an initiative copyrighted by Livres Hebdo ( ), France, co-published by BookDao ( ), China, The Bookseller ( ), UK, buchreport ( ), Germany, Publishers Weekly ( ), USA, and PublishNews Brazil ( ). It has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting ( ).

For more details, see here.

Global Ebook report 2016 is out! Over 50 charts and tables & analysis to understand global transformation of publishing

The Global eBook report 2016, the reference and resource on the development of key book publishing markets and drivers for the current transformation is now available at for an introductory price of € 15 (instead of € 20).



Highlights include

  • Freshly updated market close ups for US, UK, continental Europe (Western as well as Central and Southeastern), and emerging markets (Brazil, China, India, Russia);
  • Book publishing versus other content media (including mobile),
  • Comparisons of key drivers for biggest publishing corporations worldwide, and US, UK and EU markets;
  • Exclusive sales analysis by genre, price points and user habits (as seen through piracy usage) for selected European markets;
  • Summaries of international key debates (global actors, pricing, piracy, DRM, industry consolidation, et al.)

Find the executive summary, and direct options to purchase the report at



Preparing for Frankfurt? Refresh your data & insights with our reports!

To get the best out of your conversations at the book fair, check out the latest industry statistics and analysis from our research.



Find our 2 free Frankfurt white papers, on international market developments, and how multiple content media impact publishing:

  • The Business of Books 2015:
    Key data on markets and developments in Europe, UK and US, Brazil, China, Russia, Indonesia, and what this teaches us on the new complexities in publishing. Frankfurt white paper 01, free download here.
  • Beyond Books:
    Mobile, smartphones, competition from other content media, collaborative creation, and what you must know about these trends for your business. Frankfurt white paper 02, free download here.
  • Why most ebook predictions got it so wrong:
    A podcast with the Copyright Clearance Center here.
  • The big picture:
    The Global eBook report 2015 (in case you haven’t your copy already).

See you in Frankfurt!

Not one prediction about ebooks has been correct so far. Why? A summer rant.

Let’s face the simple truth: Not one prediction about ebooks (as far as I know) has been correct so far:

No, ebooks will NOT go away any time soon. But no, again, they will not replace printed books, not even mass paperbacks, within a decade or so.

Thus far, ebooks have strongly impacted only on some markets: English language (US, UK), and genre fiction (big fiction bestsellers, fantasy, romance, young adult) – and ebooks helped propel self-publishing.

Interestingly, in the various – and very diverse – Non-English markets of Europe, ebooks have stalled early on, in a very different pattern from US or UK. But strangely, they behaved remarkably similar for those niches of genre fiction and blockbuster novels (and found plenty of people downloading those in English, and not, say, in Slovenian or Dutch translations).

Publishers, particularly in Europe, have had their hand in all this, by keeping prices high, and by believing in the gospel of iron cast copyright protection technology (DRM).

Now several of the big companies start learning lesson 01: They abandon hard DRM, and replace it by water marking – to get “rid of a road block” (phrases buchreport, reporting on Holtzbrinck giving up hard DRM for Germany, following suit after Bonnier had decided likewise in June, and a growing number of others before that). In Italy or Scandinavia, hard DRM has had no strong showing from the beginning almost.

My personal list of ebook headaches

Every time I purchase a (non Kindle/Amazon) ebook (because I dislike those walled gardens), I firmly struggle, and hate, the lack of usability on ANY of the major ebook platforms I tend to use. Here are some real life examples:

  • Kobo has (for me) a terrible search engine, as it makes some kind of a difference for me with an Austrian account (as opposed, it seems, to what they have for a German user – argh!!!). Behind that riddle seems to sit a mix of territorial rights and bad meta data – which doesn’t help me a lot, I must say;
  • has a search engine and shop environment which together seem to visualize every step of development and changing partnerships that the platform has had to serve in the past several years – and even getting a title into a bookmark list, instead of the buy basket takes a little adventure in figuring out how, and why, a function changes names along the process;
  • Direct purchases at notably British publishers’ websites often confront the mysterious red lines of territorial rights;
  • Buying a French book teaches you a thorough lesson about how France wants to be different – it works in the end, but you better bring some time, and all your wits and persistence.

I assume you do NOT want me to go on and on and on.

Perhaps I am not the only one who got frustrated. Many a reader may have had enough – and a number has moved over to more easy-to-use piracy offerings. Not necessarily because they want “to steal the book“. But because … well, I do not want to entering guessing either.

Here is my main concern: We simply do not know.

We learn about a drop in ebook sales of 2.5% in the US (AAP StatShot, quoted in Publishers Weekly). But what does this mean? Again a few exemplary thoughts:

We know how unevenly ebook sales are across genres, but also publishers. From Europe, I know that ebooks seem to privilege massively the biggest houses, plus a few more publishers who really drive digital.

In Germany, a few independent houses (Luebbe, Aufbau) report that their ebook revenue share is over 15%. Even in ebook agnostic France, a few romance and erotica specialists claim strong digital sales, and we know that a few blockbuster memoirs found their way well onto readers’ screens, albeit through illegal downloads.

For Germany, or France, we still do not have any meaningful break out numbers, by genre, or monthly developments, but only broad overall figures for, supposedly, all of “trade” or consumer publishing, which are basically meaningless. We do not even know, for the industry, the part that year end holiday sales play, for digital sales. And the same applies to any other EU market aside from the UK.

Which also means that we have no idea whatsoever of the real impact of piracy on (p&e) book sales. We simply don’t know. (Just as a thought experiment: Are illegal sales curbing down mostly niche titles, available on highly proficient illegal platforms, and are particularly harmful to diversity of titles published by those specialist copyright holders? Or  are the mostly a nuisance to blockbuster fiction and their ‘Big Houses‘ publishers? Or is the leakage paramount? We don’t know.)

What I could see in fact, through our research, is a pretty staggering increase in page visits at major piracy sites across European markets, and both their usability as well as the mounting emphasis from these sites (they pretend, seriously, to foster ‘reading culture’) which are obviously well echoed by readers. Not by nerds or hackers, but by the most serious, ambitious page devouring folks!)

We have documented some of this in the Global eBook report 2015, and plan for some updates, notably on pricing and on piracy, for autumn 2015.

But here are already a few anticipating thoughts:

Ebooks are NOT a marginal bug in the book publishing system, as a market share (in Europe) of overall 2, 3 or 4% of all consumer sales might indicate. Ebooks interfere with the entire system, as they impact on a number of very sensitive points, by exercising significant leverage.

Most prominently, they work most directly with all kinds of particularly dedicated consumers who specialize heavily on one niche, who read much more than average, etc.

Second, ebooks set a precedent for many more readers, by bringing the ‘book‘ (that previously ‘special‘ thing) on par with all other media content, which literally trains readers at comparing their pricing as well as the convenience of access, and – very important for the cultural classes – their ‘symbolic status‘, with other formats, other content and media, on which they spend time and money.

Third, when the new ‘user experience‘ with books compares poorly with other stuff, the next exit might be a piracy site.

I made an effort of not mentioning the Amazon factor so far in that lengthy story. But here it enters the stage, unavoidably. The ‘A-impact‘ is perhaps not primarily what Amazon is blamed for, its tax-optimizing habits, or its tough negotiations with publishers over margins. Amazon’s main threat comes probably from their offer of being “the other – who claims to re-invent the future of books and reading, and of all other digital media content anyway. Which is also arguably Amazon’s softest spot: Imagine from how many sides and angles new challengers can – and will! – come in. Amazon’s future is all but secured.

For the old world publishers, who today struggle with the first wave of change, this comes with little relief. But it sure carries a simple lesson:

Ebooks are complicated. They look small, even marginal in many places. But we see how a huge, old dyke at once gets many little leaks, and readers’ attention held back for long by that dyke, is curiously exploring all the other leads around.

Publishers, if they want to survive, and fix their dyke, will better learn the tricks of ebooks quickly. Not for today’s minimal revenue share, or flattening growth curve. But to remain their readers’ best choice tomorrow, again.

Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2015 is out. China’s forceful entrance highlighted.

This survey of the 57 largest (book) publishing corporations worldwide, with a combined revenues from publishing of 53,328 m€, tracks the evolution of the global business of books in its transformation between digitalization, globalization and consolidation.

The study, which has been updated annually since 2007, encompasses scientific and professional, educational and consumer publishing.

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 Bookdao, China, The Bookseller, UK, buchreport, Germany, Publishers Weekly, USA, and PublishNews Brazil. It has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting.

A summary of findings 2015 can be downloaded here.


How high ebook prices challenge ebook growth. The New York Times confronts PWC’s overoptimistic predictions with our pricing analysis

In its new “Global entertainment and media outlook 2014 – 2018“, PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC) predicts ebook growth patterns not only for the US (expeciting digital to outgrow print by 2017), but also for a number of European markets. Strangely, France, of all countries, is expected to produce a significant upward curve in ebook sales, similar to Spain, while Germany would lag behind even Italy. Some observers simply likened such predictions to the proverbial tea leaf reading.

The New York Times opted for a more in depth approach to the matter, and compared the PWC Outlook to our analysis of ebook pricing strategies across a half dozen major European ebook markets in the last update to the Global eBook report – and I felt pretty confident, looking at the juxtaposition, that our data analysis is probably a better measure for assessing the growth dynamics, or the limitations of such, in the evolution of key ebook markets. But check out the chart yourself, and make up your mind.


Join us for the Frankfurt CEO Talks 2014: The Strategist’s Perspective.

A set of three debates with international business leaders will introduce HarperCollins’ new strategies, Brazil’s leading publishing and bookselling group Saraiva and Axel Springer’s digital agenda.

Consolidation in the publishing industry, emerging economies, educational publishing, digital strategies and the globalization of the book business, are the topics in the public interviews 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.

Understanding the current change of the international book business, as a complex process driven by the forces of globalization, digital transformation, industry consolidation, with new players and strong innovative impulses on an old trade, comes as a challenge.

This year’s Frankfurt CEO Talks will introduce a series of interviews with three preeminent top executives from three outstanding international publishing groups. Initiated by five leading international trade publications, who can dwell upon to date market insights from their Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, and organized together with the new Frankfurt Business Club, these events will offer a wealth of current information together with unique insights.

The Frankfurt CEO Talks will be held on three consecutive days, to presenting the following topics and guests:

Innovation at a Global Scale: The example of HarperCollins.
Brian Murray
, President and Chief Executive Officer of HarperCollins Publishers, will be the sole speaker on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, from 14:00 to 15:30.

Creating tomorrow’s book and learning environment: The example of Brazil.

Michel Levy, Chief Executive Officer of Saraiva Group, and Mauricio Fanganiello, Managing Director of Saraiva’s Publishing Division, will speak on Thursday, October 9, 2014, from 14:00 to 15:00, about their company’s leading position and give an overview of Brazil’s compelling book and educational market environment.

Publishing at the Speed of Silicon Valley: Axel Springer’s digital agenda.

Christoph Keese, born in 1964, is Executive Vice President of Axel Springer SE, Europe’s largest news publisher, on Friday, October 10, 2014, from 9:30 to 10:30, will shed light on his group’s digital media strategy. This talk will be integrated in the Frankfurt Story Drive conference.

All three CEO Talks will be moderated by Rüdiger Wischenbart, and take place in the Frankfurt Business Club at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Hall 4.  The events on Wednesday and Thursday will be held in hall 4.0, room Europa, the Friday session will take place in hall 4.2., room Dimension.


About the guest speakers:

Brian Murray is President and Chief Executive Officer of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins is one of the world’s largest English-language publisher of consumer books, and has publishing operations in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and India. More than 3,000 new titles are published each year, by 60 branded imprints across all major English language markets. 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.

Michel Levy is the Chief Executive Officer of Saraiva Group, which comprises the largest Brazilian bookstore chain with 114 stores, a leading book e-commerce operation with its own e-book platform, a highly profitable publishing house that operates across all major educational fields, including K12, high education and vocational, and also a growing school system. Levy has broad experience in the technology and telecommunications industries. In the 80s, he founded and ran the CompuMarketing Group, which operated in the IT and software distribution areas. He served as the operations director of BCP Telecomunicacões, and managing director of the paging company of Motorola in Brazil. Before being appointed CEO of Microsoft Brazil in October 2006, where he stayed until 2013, Levy held the position of COO of TIM, one of Brazil’s largest mobile phone operators. Levy has earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of São Paulo, and a Master’s Degree from Stanford University.

Mauricio Fanganiello is the Managing Director of Saraiva’s Publishing Division, which publishes around 500 titles per year and is an important content supplier to the Brazilian Ministry of Education. Saraiva operates across all educational fields, but it is particularly strong in K12, Law and Business Administration books. It also has a trade imprint. Mauricio majored in Business Administration at the prestigious Fundação Getulio Vargas, where he also continued his post-graduate studies. He started his career in the financial markets working for companies such as Chemical Bank and Itaú Bank. He joined Saraiva in 1997. Before being appointed to his current position, Mauricio worked in several areas inside the Saraiva Group, such as planning, investors relations, business development and digital content. He certainly is one of the sharpest minds in the Brazilian educational book industry today and has a very broad overview of the educational market.

Christoph Keese, born in 1964, is Executive Vice President of Axel Springer SE, Europe’s largest news publisher and leading digital media company. He leads the effort to transform traditional and print publishing to digital and define Axel Springer’s position in the new ecosystem of quality web media. Prior to his current position, Mr. Keese was Senior Vice President Public Affairs and Investor Relations. He served as editor-in-chief for the leading Sunday newspaper WELT am SONNTAG from May 2004 onwards, acting in parallel as editor-in-chief of news portal WELT ONLINE from 2006 until 2008 as well as heading the Board of Editors of WELT Group. In 2013, he spent six months in Palo Alto, CA, to study Silicon Valley and find new business opportunities for Axel Springer. His new book will be about disruptive change and its impact on our lives. “Silicon Valley – What to expect from the most powerful region in the world” will be published by Random House on September 22, 2014.

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.

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

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