Despite concerns about consolidation among publishing houses, sales of the top 10 companies accounted for 55% of revenue of the 50 publishers that are on the list for both 2012 and 2011, down from 57% in 2011. One reason for the decline is the increasing number of publishers from emerging markets gaining sales worldwide. That has been especially true among publishers in the 20th to 50th spots on the ranking; total revenues from those 30 companies accounted for 25% of sales in 2012, up from 21% in 2011. In addition, several new companies have been added to the ranking this year, including two Chinese publishers and one from Russia, bringing the list to 60 publishers.

As has been true in recent years, publishers that specialize in scientific/technical/medical books and journals generated the highest revenue in 2012, followed by education and then trade. There seems little interest among the largest companies to broaden the areas in which they publish; each prefers to focus on one segment. That trend was seen most recently in the U.S., when John Wiley sold off its most consumer-oriented properties to concentrate on professional information. That, of course, is also the path Pearson took with its decision to merge its Penguin subsidiary with Random House, leaving Pearson with only its (very large) educational group. McGraw-Hill Companies also decided that it would be better off focusing on one area, this one outside of publishing altogether—financial services. MHC completed the sale of McGraw-Hill Education in early 2013 to a private equity group (the sale occurred before the final numbers for 2012 were released).

So while the rankings in 2012 are relatively stable compared to 2011, events that began or accelerated in 2012—the announcement of the Penguin–Random House merger; the increase in digital sales outside of the U.K. and U.S., where growth, especially on the trade side, has slowed—are certain to jumble the listings much more in 2013.

The four largest book publishers of 2011 kept their positions last year, a result that led Pearson to retain its crown as the world’s largest publisher in 2012, with total revenues of $9.16 billion. The most significant change among the top 10 companies was due in part to the worldwide success of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which boosted Bertelsmann’s Random House subsidiary from eighth place in 2011 to fifth in 2012 on Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly’s annual ranking of the world’s largest publishers.

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Rank (2012) Rank (2011) Publishing Company (Group or Division) Country Publ. Company Mother Corporation or Owner Country Mother Corporation 2012 Revenue in $M 2011 Revenue in $M
1 1 Pearson UK Pearson (corp.) UK $9,158 $8,411
2 2 Reed Elsevier UK/NL/US Reed Elsevier (corp.) UK/NL/US $5,934 $5,686
3 3 ThomsonReuters US The Woodbridge Company Ltd. Canada $5,386 $5,435
4 4 Wolters Kluwer NL Wolters Kluwer NL $4,766 $4,360
5 8 Random House Germany Bertelsmann AG Germany $3,328 $2,274
6 5 Hachette Livre France Lagardère France $2,833 $2,649
7 6 Grupo Planeta Spain Grupo Planeta Spain $2,597 $2,304
8 7 McGraw-Hill Education US The McGrawHill companies US $2,292* $2,292
9 9 Holtzbrinck Germany Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck Germany $2,220 $1,952
10 10 Scholastic (corp.) US Scholastic US $2,148 $1,906
11 11 Cengage US Apax Partners et al. US/Canada $1,993 $1,876
12 12 Wiley US Wiley US $1,783 $1,743
13 13 De Agostini Editore Italy Gruppo De Agostini Italy $1,724* $1,724
14 14 Shueisha Japan Hitotsubashi Group Japan $1,464 $1,714
15 15 Kodansha Japan Kodansha Japan $1,368 $1,551
16 19 Springer Science and Business Media Germany EQT and GIC Investors Sweden, Singapore $1,298 $1,138
17 18 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt US Education Media and Publishing Group Limited US/Cayman Islands $1,286 $1,295
18 16 Shogakukan Japan Hitotsubashi Group Japan $1,254 $1,444
19 20 Harper Collins US News Corporation US $1,189 $1,100 (est.)
20 21 Informa UK Informa plc UK $1,126 $1,069
21 23 Oxford University Press UK Oxford University UK $1,125 $1,004
22 NEW China Publishing Group Corporate China (PR) Government; partly publicly listed China (PR) $1,104 n/a
23 NEW Phoenix Publishing and Media Company China (PR) Government; partly publicly listed China (PR) $1,076 n/a
24 26 Kadokawa Publishing Japan Kadokawa Holdings Inc. Japan $1,000 $904
25 24 Grupo Santillana Spain PRISA Spain $985 $936
26 25 Bonnier Sweden The Bonnier Group Sweden $968 $909
27 22 Gakken Japan Gakken Co. Ltd. Japan $937 $1,043
28 28 Egmont Group Denmark/Norway Egmont International Holding A/S Denmark $792 $703
29 27 Simon & Schuster US CBS US $790 $787
30 37 China Education and Media Group (form. Higher Education Press) China (PR) China Education and Media Group China (PR) $702 $445
31 29 Woongjin ThinkBig Korea Woongjin Holding Korea $667 $685
32 31 Klett Germany Klett Gruppe Germany $604 $594
33 32 Cornelsen Germany Cornelsen Germany $577 $558
34 17 Readers Digest US RDA Holding Co. US $533 $1,438
35 33 Mondadori Italy The Mondadori Group Italy $511 $506
36 34 Messagerie / GeMS (Gruppo editoriale Mauri Spagnol) Italy Messagerie Italiane Italy $491 $494
37 39 Media Participations France Media Participations Belgium $455 $442
38 35 Lefebvre-Sarrut France Frojal France $447 $467
39 40 Abril Educação Brazil Abril group Brazil $432 $411
40 36 Harlequin Canada Torstar Corp. Canada $428 $450
41 37 Sanoma Finland Sanoma WSOY Finland $426 $446
42 41 Perseus USA Perseus USA $425 $350
43 NEW Cambridge University Press UK Cambridge University Press UK $396 n/a
44 42 Westermann Verlagsgruppe Germany Medien Union (Rheinland-Pfalz Gruppe) Germany $361 $339
45 43 La Martinière Groupe France La Martinière Groupe France $351 $335
46 NEW Flammarion France Madrigall France $349 $360
47 30 RCS Libri Italy RCS Media Group Italy $333 $667
48 46 Groupe Gallimard France Madrigall France $329* $329
49 48 Kyowon Korea Kyowon Korea $322 $298
50 44 Bungeishunju Japan n/a Japan $298 $331
51 51 Haufe Gruppe Germany Priavtely owned Germany $291 $269
52 49 Weka Germany Weka Firmengruppe Germany $258 $282
53 NEW OLMA Media Group Russia n/a $257 n/a
54 47 Shinchosha Japan Privately owned Japan $245 $319
55 54 EKSMO Russia Privately owned Russia $232 $195
56 excl. Editions Atlas France Gruppo De Agostini Italy $230 n/a
57 50 Saraiva Brazil Saraiva Brazil $230 $267
58 53 Groupe Albin Michel France Groupe Albin Michel France $224 $216
59 52 Editora FTD Brazil Editora FTD Brazil $198 $226
60 45 AST Russia Privately owned Russia $194 $330

*2011 is most recent data available