This post is also available in: العربية

Print and audiobooks were singled out by Penguin Random House CEO Marcus Dohle as the most important contributors to PRH’s slight increase in sales for the first half of 2017. Total revenue at PRH increased by 1.1% to €1.5bn compared with the same period in 2016. “The strength of print and the growth of audio sales [countered] the continuing general trend in lower demand for e-books,” Dohle said, though e-books did improve at PRH’s Spanish language division, Penguin Random House Group Editorial.

Dohle singled out three novels that had performed particularly well: John Grisham’s Camino Island (much of which concerns the book industry), Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water, and Jay Asher’s YA hit 13 Reasons Why, which sold more than a million copies, thanks to its adaptation on Netflix.

He praised the strength of PRH’s backlist, describing it as “the core economic engine of the company”, and added that backlist sales had been enhanced “by our data-driven approach to increasing the online visibility of our books”.

The PRH figures were revealed in half-year figures released by parent company Bertelsmann. The international media, services and education company reported revenue of €8.1bn and operating group profit exceeding €500m for the first time in its history. It said that it would increase its stake in PRH in the fourth quarter of the year, taking its ownership up to a “strategic majority of 75%”.

Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe said: “Bertelsmann looks back on a successful first half. The increase in revenues and earnings, as well as our improved growth profile, are the result of the systematic implementation of our strategy. The Penguin Random House ownership share increase, which we have been preparing over the past few months and will complete in the second half of the year, is especially worth noting. Bertelsmann will possess a strategic three-quarters majority in the world’s largest trade publishing group – the best possible conditions for successfully further developing this core business that is part of our identity.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Dohle told staff that they had to be “laser-focused on every sale, every title marketing and publicity plan, every innovative idea, and every reader-centric initiative”. As the company heads into the busy autumn period ahead of Christmas, he reminded them that would face a marketplace with “unrelenting new-title competition each week and a crowded media landscape with constantly breaking news and attention-grabbing headlines”.

Bertelsmann’s Chief Financial Officer Bernd Hirsch concluded: “Bertelsmann has a solid financial position and a high equity ratio of 42 percent. Even after the Penguin Random House share increase, we will continue our conservative financial policy and continue to be guided by our self-imposed financing objectives. We are confident about the operating performance for the rest of the year, and continue to expect higher revenues, continued high operating profitability, and Group profit of over a billion euros.”