After Penguin Group reported a strong first half of 2013 in its last financial report before the merger with Random House became official, RH parent company Bertelsmann reported this morning that profits at RH rose to 117 million euros from 113 million euros in the first half of 2012 despite a 3.4% sales decline to 915 million euros. The decline in sales was expected, given the strong performance of the Fifty Shades trilogy that began in RH’s North American markets last April. The series still had some sales life left in it in the first part of 2013, selling more than a combined five million units in English, Spanish and German editions. Other titles that helped to offset Fifty Shades included Inferno, Lean In, Gone Girl and Wonder.
Results in Germany were “outstanding” Bertelsmann reported, with e-book sales doing particularly well and accounted for 10% of revenue at the company. Despite e-book gains in Germany, digital revenue as a percent of RH worldwide revenue fell in the first half of 2013 to about 20% from approximately 22% in the first six months of 2012 due mainly to the strong e-book sales posted last year by the Fifty Shades series.
In his letter to all Penguin Random House employees, CEO Markus Dohle congratulated employees on “excellent performances as separate companies pre-merger” and said that the combined Penguin Random House is off to a good start in its first two months. He cited some “sleeper hits” that have helped sales, including U.S. bestsellers Zealot and This Town.
Dohle said the goal now is to finish the year strong as a united company. “As we begin this ever-important fall and holiday publishing and selling season, let’s further deepen our collaboration and shared sense of purpose as we make the most of our fantastic lineup of books worldwide,” Dohle wrote in his closing remarks. “I thank you for the support you have given to our authors, to one another, and to me in our first months together. We began 2013 very well as the world’s two leading trade book publishers. With your commitment and creativity, let’s finish the year even stronger as a united Penguin Random House.”