Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH publishing group is a family-owned company headquartered in Germany. The group’s portfolio includes Macmillan Publishers, Macmillan Science and Education, and Holtzbrinck Digital, Information and Services.

Holtzbrinck is focused on the German, British and US publishing markets, and includes a large number of imprints. In Germany, Holtzbrinck owns S. Fischer, Rowohlt, Kiepenheuer & Witsch and Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur. In the UK, the group owns Pan Macmillan, and US 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 and Macmillan Education as well as J.B. Metzler in Germany.

Analysis & Key Developments

Ownership, mergers & acquisition, internal organization

In July 2013, Holtzbrinck took over 50% of German publishing group Droemer Knaur from Weltbild and now holds 100%. The acquisition reflects Holtzbrinck’s strategy to make trade publishing its core business in Germany. In 2012, Droemer Knaur generated sales of 58 million EUR.

Following a strategic review, Macmillan Science and Education restructured its education division into three global business areas. Holtzbrinck’s educational operations include Higher Education, Language Learning and Schools. As part of the restructure, Emma Bourne, former international development director at Oxford University Press, was appointed managing director of the Schools business.

Holtzbrinck operates in 138 countries. Thirty-five percent of revenue in 2012 was generated in the US, 25% in Germany, 7% in UK, 13% in rest of Europe and 19% in other regions.

Volker Smid replaced Johann Kempe as managing director of the Digital and Technologies division in February 2014. Smid previously headed Hewlett-Packard’s management team for five years. Holtzbrinck Digital invested in platforms such as the German dating site, Hungarian dating site, the multi-country artisan services platform MyHammer and Bü, a trading site for new and used books, CDs, DVDs and e-books.

Macmillan’s e-book library lending pilot Minotaur Books, launched at the end of the first quarter in 2013, expanded its library e-book offerings to include its entire e-book backlist, more than 11,000 titles.

Earlier Developments

Holtzbrinck's Trade and Education & Science divisions saw significant growth in 2012, with revenues of 1.61 billion EUR (up from 1.5 billion EUR in 2011). Profit figures were not made public.

Ownership, mergers & acquisition, internal organization
The group underwent major restructuring in 2012 saw major restructuring. 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.

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 decided to stop using DRM on e-books. Since July 2012, all new e-books have been sold without 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.

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