Although operating EBIT fell 4.9% in the year at Penguin Random House, executives at parent company Bertelsmann had nothing but good things to say about the results from the world’s largest trade publisher. Total sales at PRH were 2.66 billion euros in 2013, up from 2.14 billion euros, though Bertelsmann said that excluding the six month revenue from Penguin revenues were down. Operating EBIT fell to 309 million euros from 325 million euros in 2012, a year in which Fifty Shades led to record results at the company. EBIT includes earnings from Penguin following the July 1 completion of the merger as well as one-time write-downs associated with the deal.
In prepared remarks, Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe said the company will continue to invest in its core businesses—which includes trade book publishing—and pointed to last week’s purchase of Santillana Ediciones Generales as further proof of its commitment to the book market. PRH is also helping Bertelsmann achieve its goal of expanding its digital presence as the company now has 77,000 books in digital form and in 2013 sold over 100 million e-book copies. PRH’s biggest selling book in 2013 was Inferno which sold almost six million copies in the publisher’s English-language territories in the year. And while sales of Fifty Shades trailed off the trilogy still sold more than 7 million print, digital, and audiobook copies across all of PRH’s businesses.
For his part, PRH CEO Markus Dohle thanked employees for an “impressive performance” in a “transformative year for Penguin Random House.” Dohle said he especially appreciated the efforts of the employees of the combined company in a time of great change both at PRH and in the industry. “In our ever-shifting marketplace, and as a result of the merger, change will continue, but the essence of our business and our larger purpose—to publish the best books and to bring them into the hands of as many readers as possible—never will. In 2013, you proved that no matter what challenges the world brings us, we can change the world with our books” Dohle wrote in his letter to the PRH worldwide staff.
Dohle said that 2014 was off to a good start, noting that in the first quarter the company has released “dozens” of newly published and ongoing bestsellers and had received a number of international prize recognitions as well as expanding its international footprint with the Santillana purchase.