Bertelsmann Boosted By Sarrazin’s Million-copy Bestseller

In German Buch News by Siobhan O'Leary

By Siobhan O’Leary

Random House parent Bertelsmann has announced its final results for 2010, the year of its 175th anniversary, showing signs nearly across the board that cost-saving measures and digital expansion are having a positive impact.

Thilo Sarrazin - Deutschland schafft sich ab

Revenues for the Bertelsmann Group as a whole increased by 4.5% to €15.8 billion in 2010 and profits jumped from €35 million to €656 million, well exceeding the mid-year forecast of €500 million.

The RTL Group, Gruner + Jahr and trade publisher Random House all put up particularly strong numbers, with the Random House Group reporting a 6.1% increase in revenues to €1.8 billion (2009: €1.7 billion) and a 26.3% increase in operating EBIT to €173 million. This was attributed in part to the trade publisher’s rapidly growing digital business, particularly in the US. In 2010, the group expanded its e-book program to include 25,000 titles worldwide.

E-book sales for the publishing group worldwide increased by about 250% during the year and in the US, more than half of several novels’ first week sales were attributed to e-book sales.

In the German-speaking world, six of the ten top-selling titles of 2010 were from publishers belonging to Verlagsgruppe Random House, most notably the controversial Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Does Away with Itself] by Thilo Sarrazin –- which, according to the Börsenblatt, was the only book to sell more than a million copies in Germany in 2010.

And Bertelsmann said it expects its profits to increase even further in 2011. CFO Thomas Rabe said, “If the economic expectations for our core geographic markets are met, Bertelsmann expects moderate revenue growth in 2011, in line with the overall development of the economy.”

Troubles did, however, continue for Bertelsmann’s Direct Group, where 2010 revenues declined by 14.2% to €24 million, resulting from a combination of falling club membership and “withdrawal from a number of countries.”

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    About the Author

    Siobhan O'Leary

    Siobhan O’Leary is a literary agent, translator and writer based in Berlin. She previously worked in the Foreign Rights department of the Crown Publishing Group (Random House) and at the publishing consulting firm Market Partners International.