Despite a number of challenges, Pearson continued its reign as the world’s largest book publisher in 2017. The U.K.-based educational publisher topped this year’s Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly annual ranking with sales of over $6 billion. The revenue gain from 2016 was due to the positive effects of currency exchange; Pearson’s sales in pounds fell 1% in 2017 compared to the prior year. Indeed, currency-rate fluctuations had a greater impact on the ranking than they have in most other years.
Pearson’s position as the largest publisher could be in jeopardy in 2018, as the company has placed its U.S. K–12 courseware business up for sale. And in another move that reflects Pearson’s ongoing restructuring efforts (though it didn’t impact its top line), last year the company sold 22% of its stake in Penguin Random House to Bertelsmann, which now owns 75% of the international trade powerhouse, with Pearson retaining a 25% share.
Total book revenue at Bertelsmann now includes results from its education group, which posted a 33% increase in 2017 but still accounted for only 1% of Bertelsmann’s overall sales. PRH, whose revenues last year were up slightly, accounted for about 19% of total Bertelsmann revenue. PRH’s 2017 revenue included five months of sales from Ediciones B, which the company acquired in July to increase its publishing and marketplace presence in Spain and Latin America.
Overall, the top 10 largest companies performed well in 2017, with every company posting higher revenue in 2017 than in 2016. Financial results for the 53 companies included in the 2017 ranking were stronger overall than in 2016, when less than half of the listed publishers had increases over 2015. In 2017, only nine publishers had sales declines from 2016.
The companies listed on the ranking have evolved over the years. Though we were able to get reliable information from a number of Chinese publishers for the 2015 ranking, changes in Chinese government policies prevented those companies from participating in either 2016 and 2017. Another company not on the list this year after a number of previous appearances is Italy’s RCS, following the sale of its Libri division to Mondadori, which was #27 on the 2016 list. Among the companies that hit the list for the second time in 2017 were the Quarto Group, which landed at #53 as sales fell 18% in the year, and Bloomsbury, which moved up to #50 thanks to a big sales jump.
Top Publishers Worldwide by Revenue, 2017
|2017 Rank||2016 Rank||Publishing Group or Division||Parent Company||Country||2017 Revenue||2016 Revenue|
|2||2||RELX Group||Reed Elsevier PLC & Reed Elsevier NV||U.K./U.S./Netherlands||$5,609||$4,864|
|3||3||Thomson Reuters*||The Woodbridge Company Ltd.||Canada||$4,941||$4,819|
|5||5||Wolters Kluwer*||Wolters Kluwer||Netherlands||$3,994||$3,384|
|7||7||Grupo Planeta||Grupo Planeta||Spain||$1,974||$1,889|
|8||10||Springer Nature||Springer Nature||Germany||$1,956||$1,715|
|10||8||McGraw-Hill Education||Apollo Global Management LLC||U.S.||$1,719||$1,757|
|13||13||Cengage Learning Holdings II||Apax and Omers Capital Partners||U.S./Canada||$1,461||$1,623|
|14||14||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co.||U.S./Cayman Islands||$1,408||$1,373|
|15||15||Holtzbrinck||Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck||Germany||$1,403||$1,226|
|17||16||Oxford University Press||Oxford University||U.K.||$1,139||$939|
|20||19||Kadokawa Publishing||Kadokawa Holdings Inc.||Japan||$998||$967|
|22||23||Simon & Schuster||CBS||U.S.||$830||$767|
|23||24||Grupo Santillana||Prisa SA||Spain||$784||$668|
|24||21||Bonnier||The Bonnier Group||Sweden||$759||$667|
|26||25||Egmont Group||Egmont International Holding A/S||Denmark||$661||$605|
|27||28||Mondadori||The Mondadori Group||Italy||$632||$501|
|28||27||Woongjin ThinkBig||Woongjin Holding||South Korea||$584||$520|
|29||31||Les Editions Lefebvre-Sarrut||Frojal||France||$538||$442|
|33||35||Media Participations||Media Participations||Belgium||$412||$372|
|33||36||Cambridge University Press||Cambridge University Press||U.K.||$412||$332|
|37||38||Westermann Verlagsgruppe||Medien Union||Germany||$359||$317|
|38||41||Haufe Gruppe||Privately owned||Germany||$356||$282|
|42||42||Gakken Co.||Gakken Co. Ltd.||Japan||$279||$261|
|43||34||Kyowon Co.||Kyowon Co. Ltd.||South Korea||$260||$253|
|44||47||C.H.Beck||Verlag C.H. Beck||Germany||$235||$216|
|45||46||La Martinière Groupe||La Martinière Groupe||France||$234||$217|
|46||48||Groupe Albin Michel||Groupe Albin Michel||France||$229||$206|
|47||44||France Loisirs||Actissia Club||Luxembourg||$212||$229|
|49||52||Thieme||Georg Thieme Verlag||Germany||$218||$157|
|50||53||Bloomsbury||Bloomsbury Publishing PLC||U.K.||$216||$154|
|51||51||Editora FTD||Editora FTD||Brazil||$199||$184|
|52||54||Shinchosha Publishing Co.||Shinchosa Publishing Co. Ltd.||Japan||$177||$154|
|53||50||Quarto||The Quarto Group Inc.||U.K.||$153||$188|
* The 2016 sales figures for these companies exclude revenue from divisions that have moved away from book publishing.
Note: Figures are based on sales generated in each calendar year, or, for companies that report based on fiscal years, in each fiscal year. Companies must have annual sales of at least $150 million to be included. Data is from publicly available sources or from individual companies and includes sales of books, journals, professional information, and digital products. Pannini and Disney are excluded from the ranking because they don’t report separate data for their publishing divisions. The listing was compiled by international publishing consultant Ruediger Wischenbart under the aegis of Livres Hebdo.
Source: Livres Hebdo
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