Despite concerns about consolidation among publishing houses, sales of the top 10 companies accounted for 55% of revenue of the 50 publishers that are on the list for both 2012 and 2011, down from 57% in 2011. One reason for the decline is the increasing number of publishers from emerging markets gaining sales worldwide. That has been especially true among publishers in the 20th to 50th spots on the ranking; total revenues from those 30 companies accounted for 25% of sales in 2012, up from 21% in 2011. In addition, several new companies have been added to the ranking this year, including two Chinese publishers and one from Russia, bringing the list to 60 publishers.
As has been true in recent years, publishers that specialize in scientific/technical/medical books and journals generated the highest revenue in 2012, followed by education and then trade. There seems little interest among the largest companies to broaden the areas in which they publish; each prefers to focus on one segment. That trend was seen most recently in the U.S., when John Wiley sold off its most consumer-oriented properties to concentrate on professional information. That, of course, is also the path Pearson took with its decision to merge its Penguin subsidiary with Random House, leaving Pearson with only its (very large) educational group. McGraw-Hill Companies also decided that it would be better off focusing on one area, this one outside of publishing altogether—financial services. MHC completed the sale of McGraw-Hill Education in early 2013 to a private equity group (the sale occurred before the final numbers for 2012 were released).
So while the rankings in 2012 are relatively stable compared to 2011, events that began or accelerated in 2012—the announcement of the Penguin–Random House merger; the increase in digital sales outside of the U.K. and U.S., where growth, especially on the trade side, has slowed—are certain to jumble the listings much more in 2013.
The four largest book publishers of 2011 kept their positions last year, a result that led Pearson to retain its crown as the world’s largest publisher in 2012, with total revenues of $9.16 billion. The most significant change among the top 10 companies was due in part to the worldwide success of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which boosted Bertelsmann’s Random House subsidiary from eighth place in 2011 to fifth in 2012 on Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly’s annual ranking of the world’s largest publishers.
More including table showing top 60 worldwide.