Revenue at Penguin Random House was nearly flat in 2017 compared to 2016, slipping by 0.1% to €3.36 billion. Earnings fell 3% to €521 million. PRH parent company noted that the impact of negative exchange rates was responsible for the drop in operating EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). On the top line, the negative impact of exchange rates was offset by acquisitions, most notably its July 2017 purchase of the Spanish-language publisher Ediciones B.
Bertelsmann reported that print book revenue “remained broadly stable overall” at PRH, while e-book sales declined “moderately” and digital audiobook sales posted “strong growth.” Wonder was the top seller for PRH’s U.S. group, selling almost five million copies in print and e-book. The company also sold nearly 10 million copies of Dr. Seuss titles last year.
While PRH had its share of frontlist bestsellers (The Rooster Bar, Camino Island, Origin), in his letter to employees, PRH CEO Markus Dohle pointed to the publisher’s “growing backlist sales,” which he wrote are “a testament to the enduring appeal of a great story.”
In addition to strong backlist sales, Dohle said another key to PRH’s overall strength is “the solidity and robustness of our global family of publishing companies.”
Looking at 2018, Dohle pointed to the November publication of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which will be released in 24 languages and is “shaping up to be the international publishing event of 2018.” The company has already had a surprise big hit across its English-language territories with 12 Rules for Life, which was published earlier this year by Random House of Canada and has already sold more than 700,000 copies in the U.S.