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 27-28 employees, and generates about $14 million in annual revenue.

    • The US book publishing industry consists of about 2,000 firms that employ 55,900 workers and generate $27.6 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

                                    Jan 11, 2024 - Firms Increase Prices
                                    • Book publishers slightly increased prices during the first nine months of 2023. Personal consumption expenditures, an indicator of expenditures on books, increased moderately during the period. Industry employment and wages for nonsupervisory employees decreased slightly during the first 11 months of 2023.
                                    • The Internet Archive (IA) has appealed its loss in a major ebook copyright case. Lawyers for the IA argue that district court judge John G. Koeltl misunderstood the facts and misapplied the law in finding that the IA’s scanning and lending of print library books infringed publishers’ copyrights. Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House sued the IA in 2020 after it opened a program dubbed the National Emergency Library. The National Emergency Library expanded the Archive’s long-running Open Library program, which lets people digitally “check out” scanned copies of physical books. Publishers called both systems “willful digital piracy on an industrial scale.”
                                    • Private-equity firm KKR completed in October 2023 the acquisition of industry giant Simon & Schuster for $1.62 billion. The deal comes after the US Department of Justice blocked Penguin Random House, owned by the German media giant Bertelsmann, from acquiring Simon & Schuster. Private equity’s foray into book publishing is new, according to The Atlantic magazine. Dan Sinykin, a professor at Emory University, predicts that KKR will double down even more than big publishers already have on proven authors or celebrity memoirs at the expense of riskier unknown writers. KKR says that it plans to increase revenue by expanding into new genres of publishing domestically, and into overseas markets, among other tactics.
                                    • A new Tennessee law puts book publishers, sellers, and distributors at risk of prosecution for providing written materials to the state’s public schools that may at any point be deemed obscene. There are 119 proposals being considered this year in state legislatures to limit children’s access to written materials, according to political action group EveryLibrary. Some would create new criminal offenses while others would redefine state obscenity laws or otherwise restrict children’s access to reading material. Only a few states are considering measures similar to Tennessee’s approach. Among them is Texas, where proposed legislation would require publishers to affix age ratings to the covers of books sold to public and charter schools. School districts would be barred from buying books from publishers who failed to comply. A Louisiana proposal would allow attorney general investigations into publishers and distributors of material that is “harmful to minors.”
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