Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH publishing group is a family-owned company headquartered in Germany. It publishes both print and electronic media in more than 80 countries, and serves educational, professional, and general readership markets.

The group’s activities are divided between four areas: Trade Publishing, Education and Science, Newspapers and Business Information, and Electronic Media and Services.

Its publishing activities focus on the German, British and US market, and include a large number of imprints, notably in Germany: S. Fischer; Rowohlt; Kiepenheuer & Witsch; and Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur (together with Weltbild). In the U.K., the group owns Pan Macmillan; U.S. holdings include: Macmillan; St. Martin’s Press; Henry Holt; and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Education and Science division includes The Nature Publishing Group, Scientific American, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, and J.B. Metzler in Germany.

Key Company Developments in 2012 & 2013


Holtzbrinck's Trade and Education & Science divisions saw significant growth in 2012, with revenues of 1.61 billion EUR up from from 1.50 billion EUR in 2011). Profit figures are not made public.

Ownership, Mergers & Acquisition, Internal Organization:

2012 saw major restructuring and reorientation in the group’s strategy.

In June 2012, Holtzbrinck announced a restructuring of operations along divisional rather than geographic lines. Macmillan U.S. chief executive John Sargent was put in charge of the American, German, English, and Australian publishing houses, while Macmillan UK CEO Annette Thomas took on the Group's higher education business in the U.S. Former board member Rüdiger Salat left the company at the end of 2012.


See below in digital (DOJ ssettlement) and expansion of epubli.


During the US Department of Justice’s investigation against leading publishers and Apple on their efforts to control e-book retail prices with the agency model, Macmillan changed its initial approach and settled with the Department of Justice in February 2013. A critical assessment of the eventual risk of not doing so, and the pending merger of rivals Random House and Penguin contributed to the decision.

Tom Doherty, editor of Tor/Forge, caused a stir when he declared to refrain from DRM. Since July 2012, all new e-books are sold without the copy protection. Also more than 2,000 backlist titles will be newly converted.

Holtzbrinck launched the e-book lending platform Skoobe in cooperation with Bertelsmann, and Holtzbrinck’s self-publishing platform epubli expanded from Germany to the U.K. in early 2013.

Holtzbrinck sold Poolworks, its social media platforms for students, to private equity firm Vert Capital. The platforms lost ground in conjunction with the rise of Facebook's popularity.

Bestselling Authors & Titles:


Key Points for Analysis & Conclusions:


Earlier Developments:

In early 2010, the group’s US representative John Sargent challenged over e-book pricing issues, sparking a brief controversy. Sargent successfully claimed the right for the publisher to define the retail price of an electronic book, after Amazon had insisted on being in control over discounts. The dispute was settled over a weekend, with the emergence of the so-called “agency model," which grants the publisher control over the consumer price for a digital book.

Company statement for 2008: “Despite the difficult economic conditions seen in 2008, the Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck was able to improve its competitive positioning. Both the company’s products and reach were successfully expanded. Organic growth of +7.5 % was better than the industry average and proof of the group’s impressive performance. Nevertheless, the Verlagsgruppe was not unaffected by the starkly negative turn taken by the economy in the 4th quarter of 2008. Results in 2008 were down compared to prior year.“

The most dramatic recent event occurred in the group’s newspaper business, when Dieter von Holtzbrinck, former chairman and already retired member of the owning family, bought majority shares in the Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt (including Handelsblatt and WirtschaftsWoche, the Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt professional publisher, and iq media marketing GmbH), the Tagesspiegel Group, and a 49% share in DIE ZEIT Group.

Growth was registered in the group only in the “Digital media” segment (with +41.8 percent against 2007), even as no specific details have been given.

Revenues in book publishing declined from 605.8 million EUR in trade, and remained flat in education and science (with revenues of 763.2 million EUR in 2008, against 750.5 million EUR in the previous year).

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