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With the global economy still struggling to get on a solid footing in 2010, the world’s largest publishers had a mixed performance in the year, although the majority of companies managed to post sales gains in the year. That was definitely the case at Pearson, where revenue increases in trade and educational publishing combined to keep the U.K.-based publishing giant atop the Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly world publishing rankings with sales of close to $8.1 billion. Among Pearson’s closest competitors, divestitures, currency fluctuations, and softness in some markets dropped revenue at all but Thomson Reuters.

The first change in the listing came in the seventh spot, where McGraw-Hill Education, with a revenue increase of 2%, pulled ahead of Grupo Planeta, which had a 6% decline in the year. The top 10 publishers had a more North American flavor in 2010 compared to recent years, with Cengage and Scholastic displacing the European giants Holtzbrinck and De Agostini Editore in the top 10 (though it must be noted Holtzbrinck and De Agostini’s revenue are from 2009, as 2010 figures are not yet available).

The accession of Cengage and Scholastic reflected the growth of educational publishing among the top 10 publishers. Between 2008 and 2010, educational publishing revenue in the group rose 19%, and its share of revenue increased to 27%. Much of the gain came from publishers serving emerging nations, including China, which has made education a high priority. While scientific/technical/medical publishers generated the largest share of sales among the top 10 publishers, trade sales fell in the 2008–2010 period, representing 31% of revenue last year.

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