The top 52 companies in the global book business generate approximately 60 billion euros in value each year, according to the latest report of the top global publishers compiled by Ruediger Wischenbart, the Vienna-based publishing consultant. (PW published the list of the largest publishers in August). “You now see that publishing is a global business and there is now a process of stabilization driven by consolidation — driven by the big companies absorbing the smaller ones,” he said as part of his introduction to an interview with Jacob Dalborg, CEO of Bonnier Books.
Overall, Bonnier is one of the world’s largest conglomerates in publishing, comprising more than 250 brands in 14 different countries. “You may not know it, but Bonnier — a Swedish conglomerate— is actually the third largest publisher in Germany,” said Wischenbart.
For his part, Dalborg said that he wanted people to think of Bonnier’s German imprints before they think of the parent company’s brand: Ullstein Buchverlage, Piper Verlag, Carlsen Verlag, et al. But, he emphasized throughout the hour long interview, “Bonnier really has the closeness of the family. Our emphasis is on people, finding, training and retaining, the right people.”
Discussing the company’s overall book strategy, he said, “Compared to other businesses, not only in media, books are really in a good place. We have business models that work.We sell stories, that is what we sell — whether that is in print, digital or audio, it doesn’t matter, as long as there is a buyer for that. It is not a walk in the park, the core of what we do, the literature itself, there is a demand for it and you have to pay for it.”
Asked specifically about the U.K. and U.S. markets, where the company has launched new bookstores (Pocket Shop in the U.K.) and imprints (among others, Little Bee in the U.S.), Dalborg acknowledged Bonnier has set itself some big goals. This August, when Bonnier announced the creation of Bonnier Publishing USA, it said it want to raise revenue in the U.S. from about $40 million to $100 million by 2019. At Frankfurt, Dalborg said it will take time for Bonnier to hit its objectives but added "we will get there" .