RCS MediaGroup is an international multimedia group that publishes daily newspapers, magazines and books and produces radio, television, and new media content. Forty percent of sales are generated outside Italy, with a significant presence in Spain, Portugal, the USA and China. RCS MediaGroup S.p.A. is listed on the Italian Stock Exchange.
The group’s primary book publisher is RCS Libri, with imprints including Rizzoli, Bompiani, BUR, Fabbri Editori, Sonzogno, and Lizard. The group also owns the publishing houses Marsilio and Adelphi and holds an investment in the e-book distribution platform Edigita, which serves approximately 50% of the country’s e-book market and over 130 publishers and imprints.
RCS Libri is also active in Italy in textbook, legal, university and professional publishing, and offers digital solutions in the My Studio platform for teachers and students.
The group is present in the USA with Rizzoli NewYork, Universe, HLLA and Welcome, and in Spain and Portugal with the publishing houses La Esfera de los Libros and A Esfera dos Livros.
With a market share of 11.8%, RCS Libri is the second largest publisher in Italy.
Analysis & Key Developments
RCS Libri’s revenues for 2014 were 223 million EUR, an 11.4% drop of 28.5 million EUR compared to 2013. This number is impacted by the business sold off during 2013, including the equity investment in Editions d’Art Albert Skira, the Partworks business segment and Casa Editrice La Tribuna. Without these losses factored, the revenue decrease was 4.5 million EUR (-2%).
The trade segment, Italy Fiction and Non-Fiction Italy, were down -2.4%. According to company information, this is in line with the contraction of the trade book market in Italy (-2.7%).
Rizzoli International revenue fell slightly (-1.5%) due to the closure of the historic Rizzoli Bookstore.
The Education revenue was down -3.1% compared to 2013.
In February 2015, RCS’s competitor and market leader Mondadori made a non-binding offer to acquire RCS Libri. According to Reuters this deal could be worth 125–150 million EUR. RCS Mediagroup granted Mondadori an exclusive evaluation period lasting until May 29 with the objective to establish terms and conditions for an eventual transaction.
RCS sold its share of R.L. Libri to Gruppo Editoriale Mauri Spagnol S.p.A., which already owned 50% of the company. On July 11, the French subsidiary Editions Fabbri was liquidated and its remaining assets were transferred to RCS Libri.
Rizzoli Publications acquired the rights to Welcome Books in June 2014, a complementary publisher with a catalogue of 76 active titles.
E-book revenue was up by 32% in 2014 compared to the previous year, and the percentage of total book publishing revenue for e-books grew from 3.7% to 4.7%. RCS Libri holds an estimated share of 14% of the Italian e-book market.
“RCS Libri has been the leader in digital innovation”, said Marcello Vena, former head of digital at RCS Libri, in an interview with Publishing Perspectives. The group is on a path toward digital innovation and launched one new digital project each quarter. These pioneering projects include a launch of e-books aboard, e-book streaming on high-speed trains, and digital-first editions in advance of print editions through Rizzoli First. This commitment to digital innovation added value to both print and digital books. With Amazon, RCS launched BigJump, a publishing contest for new and self-published authors in Italy.
After the launch of the new RCS Libri website, which consolidates all group brands and provides a database of over half a million titles, RCS opened the fully renovated Rizzoli Galleria bookshop in Milan and launched the new BOOKtoBOOK app. In September RCS launched MyStudio, a digital educational suite with more than 64,000 downloads in less than six months.
In 2014, Rizzoli doubled its number of top twenty titles compared to 2013 and landed 42 titles in the top ten of the bestseller lists with titles such as Colpa delle stele by John Green, Ammazziamo il gattopardo by Alan Friedman, Il Cardellino by Donna Tartt, Tempesta, which marked the return of Lilli Gruber, Premiata ditta Sorelle Ficcadenti by Andrea Vitali, La vita è un viaggio by Beppe Severgnini, and books by Giampaolo Pansa and Andrea Camilleri. Recent successes include Benedetta Parodi’s Molto bene and Alberto Angela’s non-fiction work I tre giorni di Pompei. Important titles for Bompiani included Adulterio by Paulo Coelho and Illmitz by Susanna Tamaro.
Revenue from the Books segment declined by 1.8% compared to 2012, from 273 million EUR to 252 million EUR in 2013, as a result of revenue contraction from distribution deals with other publishers (-9%) and a decline in Education (-2.9%). The decline was partly offset by higher revenue from in-house products (2.9%) and digital growth (77%). Revenue from Partworks and Skira were excluded from the totals.
Fabbri’s Partworks Division was sold in August 2013, along with equity from Editions d’Art Albert Skira in December.
Italy contributes 905 million EUR (69%) of the company’s revenue, while 29% comes from Spain and 2% from other countries.
In 2013, RCS Libro noted strong growth in e-book revenue (80% compared to 2012) with the value of goods sold already accounting for 4% of the combined physical and e-book revenue.
Among the bestselling titles of 2013 were Joël Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Bompiani), and Irene Cao, whose erotic trilogy Lo ti guardo; Io ti sento; Io ti voglio was published by Rizzoli and sold in eleven countries.