If Peter Olson is indeed leaving Random House, his successor will still be faced with the task of finding ways to grow the world's largest trade book publisher in an industry confronted by sluggish growth. Since 2002, one way Random has looked to grow is through international expansion, a move that also lessened its dependence on the American market, where the company has been the dominant publisher since its purchase by Bertelsmann in 1998.
In 2002, the U.S. represented 69% of Random House's worldwide revenue, a figure that dropped to 53% in 2007. During that span, Random significantly increased its presence in Germany and Spain as well as in Asia. But between 2002 and 2007, as measured in euros, total Random sales fell from 1.99 billion euros in 2002 to 1.84 billion euros last year. Earnings before interest and taxes, however, increased from 168 million euros to 173 million euros. Sales at Random's U.S. subsidiary fell from 1.38 billion euros in 2002 to 974 million euros last year—although, measured in dollars, 2002—2007 sales rose about 11%, from $1.29 billion to $1.43 billion (based on a conversion rate of one euro worth 94 cents in 2002, while $1 equaled 1.47 euros in 2007).