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 1 1 Pearson Pearson PLC U.K. $6,070 $5,617 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 4 4 Bertelsmann Bertelsmann AG Germany $4,240 $3,697 5 5 Wolters Kluwer* Wolters Kluwer Netherlands $3,994 $3,384 6 6 Hachette Livre Lagardère France $2,735 $2,390 7 7 Grupo Planeta Grupo Planeta Spain $1,974 $1,889 8 10 Springer Nature Springer Nature Germany $1,956 $1,715 9 11 Scholastic Scholastic U.S. $1,742 $1,673 10 8 McGraw-Hill Education Apollo Global Management LLC U.S. $1,719 $1,757 10 9 Wiley Wiley U.S. $1,719 $1,727 12 12 HarperCollins News Corp U.S. $1,636 $1,646 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 16 15 Informa Informa PLC U.K. $1,229 $963 17 16 Oxford University Press Oxford University U.K. $1,139 $939 18 17 Kodansha Kodansha Ltd. Japan $1,045 $1,004 19 16 Shueisha Hitotsubashi Group Japan $1,041 $1,053 20 19 Kadokawa Publishing Kadokawa Holdings Inc. Japan $998 $967 21 22 Shogakukan Hitotsubashi Group Japan $862 $818 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 25 26 Klett Klett Gruppe Germany $731 $567 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 30 30 Groupe Madrigall Madrigall France $516 $461 31 33 Messagerie/GeMS Messagerie Italiane Italy $485 $431 32 32 Somos Educação Somos Brazil $418 $426 33 35 Media Participations Media Participations Belgium $412 $372 33 36 Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press U.K. $412 $332 35 37 Eksmo-AST Privately owned Russia $387 $314 36 39 Sanoma Sanoma WSOY Finland $382 $299 37 38 Westermann Verlagsgruppe Medien Union Germany $359 $317 38 41 Haufe Gruppe Privately owned Germany $356 $282 39 47 Prosveshcheniye Privately owned Cyprus $343 $207 40 40 Cornelsen Cornelsen Germany $310 $287 41 43 WEKA WEKA Firmengruppe Germany $288 $255 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 47 45 Bungeishunju Bungeishunju Ltd. Japan $212 $220 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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