Although there was a fair amount of deal making among the global book publishing giants last year, those mergers and acquisitions did not have much of an impact on the top of Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly’s annual ranking, based on annual revenue, of the world’s largest publishers in 2013. Pearson came in first, with $9.33 billion in revenue, followed by Reed Elsevier, Thomson/Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer. All four educational and professional publishers held the same respective positions on the list in 2012.
Scroll down to see the full rankings.
Random House was the largest publisher of trade books in 2013, and was fifth largest overall (its position also unchanged from 2012). The company benefited from its 53% stake in Penguin and the assumption of full control of Random House Mondadori in late 2012, which was renamed Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial at the end of last year. Together, Penguin Random House and RH’s German publishing group had sales of $3.66 billion in 2013 (with Penguin’s revenues for the last six months of the year reported in the PRH total; revenue for the first six months were attributed to Penguin parent company Pearson). Random House’s agreement with PRISA (ranked #24 on the 2013 list) to acquire the trade book segment of its Santillana Ediciones Generales business will likely be completed this year, meaning that the house will grow again in 2014.
McGraw-Hill Education was also involved in a deal last year: the company was sold to Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm, in spring for $2.4 billion. MHE is now operated through two holding companies—McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings, which houses the higher education, professional, and international operations, and McGraw-Hill School Education Holdings, which operates the elhi and testing businesses. Together, the companies had revenue of $1.99 billion in 2013.
Cengage Learning, a North American educational publisher that has been controlled by private funds for several years, filed for bankruptcy in July 2013 and emerged from Chapter 11 in April 2014 after eliminating $4 billion in debt. Cengage will not release new financial reports until August, but its 2012 revenue put it almost even with MHE.
While the companies that comprised the top 10 publishers stayed relatively intact in 2013, their share of overall revenue generated by the 50 largest publishers slipped in the year. The 10 accounted for 54% of overall revenue in the 2013, down from 55% in 2012. That decline was due, in part, because some of the deals last year, including the creation of Penguin Random House, involved two top 10 companies.
The Other 46
One publisher that did significantly improve its position in the ranking through an acquisition was Groupe Madrigall: its 2012 purchase of fellow French publisher Flammarion bumped the company to #31 last year, up from #47 the prior year. The combination of Flammarion with Madrigall’s Groupe Gallimard resulted in revenue of $574 million in 2012, the most recent figure available for the house (Gallimard’s position in the 2012 ranking was based on 2011 revenue of $329 million). Italian publisher RCS, which previously owned Flammarion, posted revenue of $348 million last year, putting it at #44 in the current ranking, up from #47 in 2012.
One of the most important developments in our 2013 ranking involved Brazilian publishers. Three Brazilian companies were included in the 2012 list, but, due in part to a severe decline of the value of the real—the country’s currency—that year, revenue at those publishers fell relative to that of North American and European firms. Saraiva, for example, reported revenue of 507 million real in 2011, worth about $267 million; in 2012, the company once again posted revenue of 507 million real, but due to the drop in the value of the real over the two-year period that amount was worth only about $230 million at the time, placing it at #57 on the list. The smallest of Brazil’s Big Three, FTD, had 468 million real of revenue in 2013, which, when converted to dollars, wasn’t enough for the company to be included in our ranking.
China had two publishers on the 2013 list and may have more next year if additional information becomes available. With revenue of just under $1.5 billion, China Publishing Group Corp. ranked #14 last year, up from #22 in 2012. China Education and Media Group, formerly Higher Education Press, was #21 in the 2013 ranking, with revenue of $1.15 billion, up from #30 the prior year. Two even larger Chinese companies were not included in the 2013 list, since it was impossible to break out their book publishing sales (which are used to determine the position of each company in the ranking) from revenue generated by their printing operations and other media holdings. China South Publishing & Media Group had total revenue of approximately $2.7 billion last year, while Phoenix Publishing and Media Company had about $2.1 billon in overall sales.
Despite the merger activity that has taken place across the industry over the last several years, there is no indication that the largest houses are looking to expand into new markets. That was the certainly true of Random House, which chose to grow its trade presence rather than moving into the educational or professional fields. HarperCollins is following suit with its decision to buy Harlequin. The two companies reached an agreement this spring, and when that deal is completed, HC, which was #16 in 2013, will have combined worldwide revenue of approximately $2 billion, moving it closer to top-10 territory. Similarly, the just-announced decision by Hachette Book Group, Hachette Livre’s U.S. division, to acquire the publishing imprints of the Perseus Books Group expands HBG in the trade book field rather than moving it into a different segment.
|Rank (2013)||Rank (2012)||Publishing Company (Group or Division)||Country||Mother Corporation or Owner||Country of Mother Corporation||2013 Revenue in $M||2012 Revenue in $M|
|2||2||Reed Elsevier||UK/NL/US||Reed Elsevier||UK/NL/US||$6,093||$5,934|
|3||3||Thomson-Reuters||US||The Woodbridge Company Ltd.||Canada||$5,576||$5,386|
|4||4||Wolters Kluwer||NL||Wolters Kluwer||NL||$4,920||$4,766|
|5||5||Random House||Germany||Bertelsmann AG||Germany||$3,664||$3,328|
|7||10||Holtzbrinck||Germany||Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck||Germany||$2,222||$2,220|
|8||8||Grupo Planeta||Spain||Grupo Planeta||Spain||$2,161||$2,597|
|9||11||Cengage*||US||Apax Partners et al.||US/Canada||N/A||$1,993|
|10||7||McGraw-Hill Education||US||The McGraw-Hill Companies||US||$1,992||$2,292|
|13||13||De Agostini Editore*||Italy||Gruppo De Agostini||Italy||N/A||$1,724|
|14||22||China Publishing Group||China (PR)||Government; partly publicly listed||China (PR)||$1,499||$1,104|
|15||17||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||US||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Group Ltd.||US/Cayman Islands||$1,379||$1,286|
|17||16||Springer Science and Business Media||Germany||EQT and GIC Investors||Sweden, Singapore||$1,301||$1,298|
|18||21||Oxford University Press||UK||Oxford University||UK||$1,254||$1,125|
|21||30||China Education and Media Group (form. Higher Education Press)||China (PR)||China Education and Media Group||China (PR)||$1,152||$702|
|23||29||Egmont Group||Denmark/Norway||Egmont International Holding A/S||Denmark||$1,101||$792|
|26||26||Bonnier||Sweden||The Bonnier Group||Sweden||$976||$968|
|27||24||Kadokawa Publishing||Japan||Kadokawa Holdings Inc.||Japan||$900||$1,000|
|28||28||Simon & Schuster||US||CBS||US||$809||$790|
|30||31||Woongjin ThinkBig||Korea||Woongjin Holding||Korea||$616||$667|
|31||47||Groupe Madrigall (Gallimard, Flammarion)||France||Madrigall||France||N/A||N/A|
|33||34||Readers Digest*||US||RDA Holding Co.||US||N/A||$533|
|34||36||Messagerie / GeMS||Italy||Messagerie Italiane||Italy||$543||$491|
|35||37||Media Participations||France||Media Participations||Belgium||$481||$455|
|36||35||Mondadori||Italy||The Mondadori Group||Italy||$462||$511|
|38||43||Cambridge University Press||UK||Cambridge University Press||UK||$433||$396|
|41||44||Westermann Verlagsgruppe||Germany||Medien Union||Germany||$401||$361|
|44||48||RCS Libri||Italy||RCS Media Group||Italy||$348||$333|
|45||55||EKSMO-AST (since 2012: EKSMO)||Russia||Privately owned||Russia||$343||$232|
|46||45||La Martinière Groupe||France||La Martinière Groupe||France||$329||$351|
|48||51||Haufe Gruppe||Germany||Privately owned||Germany||$315||$291|
|49||52||OLMA Media Group||Russia||Privately owned||Cyprus||$306||$257|
|50||27||Gakken||Japan||Gakken Co. Ltd.||Japan||$297||$937|
|53||57||Editions Atlas||France||Gruppo De Agostini||Italy||N/A||$230|
|54||58||Groupe Albin Michel||France||Groupe Albin Michel||France||$232||$224|
|55||39||Abril Educação||Brazil||Abril group||Brazil||$216||$203|
*2013 placement estimated based on 2012 revenue
Correction: Due to a currency conversion error, an earlier version of this article misstated the 2013 revenue figures for Pearson and Reed Elsevier. The error did not impact either publisher's ranking.