The Bonnier Group is a family-owned international media group active in TV, daily newspapers, business and trade publishing, magazines, film, books, radio and digital media. Bonnier is based in Scandinavia and is present in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Eastern Europe and elsewhere, with operations in 16 countries and more than 8,000 employees around the world. The company’s publishing business began in 1804. The group is wholly owned by the Bonnier family, which has been running it for seven generations.
Bonnier combined its Nordic and International publishing divisions into Bonnier Books in 2014. Bonnier’s Nordic imprints are under Bonnierförlagen, and include Albert Bonniers Förlag, Wahlström & Wistrand, Bonnier Carlsen, CappelenDamm (shared with Egmont), and Bonnier Books Finland (with publishers Tammi, WSOY and readme).
Bonnier Media Deutschland comprises the group’s German publishing houses, with Ullstein Buchverlag, Piper verlag, Carlsen verlag, Thienemann-Esslinger, and others.
Bonnier Publishing produces English-language books under Hot Key Books, Zaffre, IglooBooks, Templar Publishing, Blink Publishing, Autumn Publishing, Weldon Owen Publishing, and others in the UK; Five Mile Press and Echo Publishing in Australia; Paris-based publishers Piccolia abd Elcy; and little bee books in New York.
Bonnier Books is also present in Poland through Marginesy.
Bonnier is active in retail, and operates the largest online retailer in the Nordic region, Adlibris. Brick-and-mortar bookstores under Bonnier include the softcover chain Pocket Shop in Finland, Sweden, Germany and UK, and the Finnish book chain Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (an academic bookstore). Bonnier Books also offers self-publishing services through Type&Tell and the digital subscription service BookBeat in Sweden and Finland.
Analysis & Key Developments
Bonnier AB closed fiscal 2016 with a declining performance. “Bonnier’s 2016 was not a year that will go down in history,” noted CEO Tomas Franzén. The company’s overall net sales decreased from 25.9 billion SEK to 25.5 billion SEK. The year-end results for 2016 were mainly affected by losses from the subscription-video-on-demand service C More, Finnish MTV, and the gaming company Evoke Gaming, where turnaround efforts continue.
Bonnier Books had a strong year during 2016. The company’s publishing revenues were boosted by 10.3% to 7.7 billion SEK, compared to 7 billion SEK in 2015. “I’m extremely pleased to see how successfully our companies have developed and taken positions in demanding and changing markets,“ Jacob Dalborg, CEO of Bonnier Books, noted in the company’s annual report. The EBITA from publishing rose by 1.1% to 427 million SEK, compared to 422 million SEK during the previous year.
In January 2016 Bonnier Publishing Fiction was renamed Bonnier Zaffre. The new name is due to the 200-year heritage of Bonnier Publishing’s owner and the entrepreneurial spirit of the company.
Sweden’s Bonnierförlagen had an outstanding year in 2016. The company branch passed the SEK 100 million mark in digital revenues, with digital sales increasing by 60%. The success was driven by books such as Lars Kepler’s The Rabbit Hunter as well as awards for a number of authors, including two August Prize winners.
Norway’s biggest book publishing group Cappelen Damm continued its success in 2016, with many bestsellers such as Vigdis Hjorth’s novel Arv og Miljø. The acquisition of Bazar, a publisher that specializes in audiobooks, further strengthened the group’s position in Norway.
German publishing house Bonnier Media Deutschland continued to improve its profitability in 2016, with numerous titles on the bestseller lists including the year’s number one bestseller, plus record-breaking digital book sales.
Bonnier Publishing in the U.K. showed great strength in publication and sales, allthough it was a challenging year due to external factors such as Brexit accompanied by a falling pound.
Acquisitions and Growth Initiatives in Publishing
During February 2016 Bonnier Book Publishing announced the launch of its new imprint Manilla. The new joint venture with Ullstein Verlag will release fiction titles in translation, starting with German fiction.
Also in February, Bonnier absorbed Weldon Owen US, an illustrated non-fiction publisher. Bonnier split the company into two parts—Weldon Owen Publishing became part of the UK-based Bonnier Publishing Ltd, while Weldon Owen International became part of Bonnier Corporation (USA), operating from San Francisco, USA.
In May 2016 the company acquired the independent publisher John Blake, a specialist in high profile and mass-market non-fiction.
In August 2016 Bonnier created a new US division, Bonnier Publishing USA as a merger of Little Bee Books and Weldon Owen US.
In September 2016 Bonnier launched its new digital platform SelmaStories.
Swedish publisher Forum launched the imprint Yourlife Books in 2016, which releases about 125 new titles a year with focus on personal literature.
Bonnier acquired the remaining 30% of shares of Månpocket, Månadens Bok and the publisher Orosdi-Back in 2016.
In 2017, Wahlström & Widstrand, a Swedish publishing house founded in 1884, became part of the Bonnier Book company.
In April 2017 Bonnier launched its new digital publisher Bonnier Bookery.
Online Nordic retailer Adlibris Group’s revenues increased, with growth both in its book business and in new product categories, and the company‘s profits improved.
Bonnier launched the audio and e-book service BookBeat in Sweden and Finland in 2016, and began preparations for new branches in Germany and the United Kingdom.
Academic Bookstore, which Bonnier acquired in 2015, implemented of a new organization, new system support and completely new store design, in order to create a stable foundation for the future.
Initiatives in Retail
In July 2016 Pocket Shop opened its first UK branch in Birmingham Airport. Several other outlets followed in London and Birmingham.
A branch of the mass market division IglooBooks, first introduced in 2014, launched in Sweden in 2016. IglooBooks was launched in North America in March 2017.
In 2016 Bonnier passed 100 million SEK in sales of digital books, with a rise in turnover of 60%. The publishing house now offers a catalogue including 6,677 digital items of which 96% were sold or loaned during 2016. Seventeen percent of the company’s total publishing revenue was created by digital products. During 2017, Bonnier plans to make 1,000 additional digital titles available. The company also launched its content marketing initiative Selmastories, which offers customers advice, investigations, news, podcasts and videos connected to Bonnier- förlagen’s authors and books. Digital publisher Bonnier Bookery launched in April 2017, which plans to publish between 20 – 25 fiction and nonfiction titles per year.
During 2016 Bonnier’s German, Norwegian and Finish book publishers sold 1.5 million copies of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Lost Child.