Revenue at Penguin Random House rose 11.8% in 2015 over 2014, parent company Bertelsmann reported this morning. The publisher's revenue jumped to 3.7 billion euros, while profits (EBIT) rose 23.2%, to 557 million euros. The revenue gain was due almost entirely to favorable exchange rates, while the improvement in earnings was attributed to exchange rates and savings achieved through the further integration of Random House and Penguin.
The success of the Random House-Penguin merger was a theme of the written remarks from Bertelsmann executives as well as PRH CEO Markus Dohle. In his letter to PRH employees worldwide, Dohle said that many of the publisher's "organizational and systems integrations" have been completed. (In addition to the Penguin-RH merger, PRH bought Santillana Ediciones Generales in 2014.) Dohle also said that “as the integration becomes smaller in the rearview, we can squarely focus on what’s ahead.”
While PRH had numerous bestsellers worldwide, sales from continuing operations fell 2.1% in the year. Favorable exchange rates accounted for 12.9% of growth, while sales from acquisitions added 1% to revenue.
Among the publisher’s top selling books worldwide was Paula Hawkins' debut novel The Girl on the Train, which sold more than seven million copies in the English- and German-speaking world across all PRH formats. Grey, the new E. L. James novel in the Fifty Shades series, sold 8.5 million copies in English, German and Spanish. Exceptional bestsellers in children’s and young adult books included Dr. Seuss titles, which collectively sold 10.8 million copies.
Bertelsmann said that sales and earnings in the U.S. rose in the year. Although the company did not report how e-book sales performed, it said that in the U.S. e-book sales were "affected by new retail sales terms." In a press conference in Germany, Dohle said that e-books accounted for 25% of revenue in the U.S. He also noted that 50% of PRH’s total revenue--from both print and e-books--came from online retailers last year.
Among the books that led sales in the U.S. were Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Numerous children’s books did very well, Bertelsmann said, including Paper Towns by John Green, and new titles by James Dashner and Rick Yancey.
For all of Bertelsmann, revenue rose 2.8%, to $17.1 billion euros, while EBIT increased 4.7%, to 2.49 billion euros. Going forward, the company will report results in eight divisions rather than five. Among the new divisions will be education, which will house Bertelsmann’s businesses in that sector.