Book Publishers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,000 book publishers in the US perform design, editing, and marketing activities necessary for producing and distributing books in print, electronic, or audio form. Book categories include the Trade sector, learning and classroom materials for K-12 education, Higher Education books and materials, and professional, technical or scholarly journals. The Trade sector can be broken into Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Juvenile Non-Fiction, and Religion subcategories.

Growth of Self-Publishing

Ten years ago, authors were dependent on book publishers to reach readers, but today authors have the option of self-publishing their work in either eBook or printed formats.

Competition from Alternative Media

Trade books compete with other forms of entertainment for consumers’ time and dollars.

Industry size & Structure

The average book publisher operates a single location, has 24-25 employees, and generates about $13 million in annual revenue.

    • The US book publishing industry consists of about 2,000 firms that employ 51,900 workers and generate $27 billion in annual revenue.
    • The US book publishing industry sells 2-3 billion units annually, according to the Association of American Publishers.
    • The industry consists of many small publishers (63% of establishments have less than five employees) but is concentrated, as the largest 20 firms represent 74% of industry revenue.
    • The "Big Five" US trade book publishers are Hatchette Book Group (part of French media company, Lagardere), HarperCollins (a subsidiary of News Corp.), MacMillan Publishers (part of Germany's Holtzbrinck Publishing Group), Penguin Random House (jointly-owned by Germany's Bertelsmann) and Simon and Schuster (owned by CBS Corporation).
    • Large textbook publishers include Pearson, Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    • Large publishers of professional and technical books include RELX Group (formerly Reed Elsevier, UK-based) and Thompson Reuters.
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Book Publishers Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Recent Developments

                                    Nov 2, 2022 - Judge Blocks Merger Of Publishing Giants
                                    • A federal judge blocked Penguin Random House's move to acquire rival book publisher Simon & Schuster. Penguin Random House is the largest book publisher in the US. Simon & Schuster is the fourth largest. District Court Judge Florence Y. Pan wrote in her order that the Department of Justice has successfully shown that the proposed $2.2 billion merger could "substantially ... lessen competition in the market." Penguin Random House parent company Paramount Global and Simon & Schuster expressed their disappointment at the ruling in separate statements and confirmed that the parties were looking at options including seeking "an expedited appeal"
                                    • A federal judge dismissed two antitrust lawsuits accusing e-commerce giant Amazon and five large publishers of illegally conspiring to fix US prices of electronic and traditional books. Consumers accused the defendants of signing agreements that let the publishers inflate e-book prices by locking in a 30% "agency" fee for Amazon on each sale, and guaranteeing that Amazon's prices would not be undercut. Retail booksellers alleged in a separate lawsuit that Amazon had been awarded a "discriminatory discount" on hardbacks, paperbacks and mass-produced books, forcing them to pay higher wholesale prices to the publishers and depressing book sales. Judge Valerie Figueredo recommended that both lawsuits be dismissed, citing a lack of evidence of collusion.
                                    • Book stores may be affected by changing consumer demand that has resulted in overstocking by retailers of some products. Some Americans, mainly high earners, are reallocating their spending to experiences, says Kayla Bruun, an economic analyst with Morning Consult. Travel demand, for example, has soared as travel restrictions are eased. "There is a shift away from goods and to services, which is more Covid-related," she says. "People were locked down during the pandemic and they were spending more income on things around the home and now they prefer to spend their discretionary spending on goods outside the home."
                                    • Paper shortages and increasing distribution costs are challenges that the book publishing industry will likely face throughout year, according to Publishers Weekly. The seeds of the current problems were sown early in the pandemic, when sales of print books unexpectedly rose, increasing demand while people were leaving manufacturing jobs in droves that led to labor shortages in the printing and papermaking businesses. Bill Rojack, of paper manufacturer Midland Paper said that book publishers are going to need to make some tough choices. “We’ve been spoiled,” he said. “Too many trim sizes and too many colors, and simply too many options.” He added that publishers should be in constant contact with their paper and print providers, discussing the options that remain available and shouldn’t even bring up prices.
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