News

Rebuck bullish on digital after "show-stopping" Xmas

Random House c.e.o. Gail Rebuck has said she expects digital to become a "significant" part of its business in 2011 and hailed a "show-stopping" Christmas, as parent company Bertelsmann announced its full-year results to 31st December 2010.

Random House Group (RHG) revenues were up 6.1% in 2010 compared to 2009, to €1.8bn (£1.bn), with worldwide digital sales up 250% on the previous year.

Operating earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) for Random House also rose to €173m (£152.6m) from €137m (£120.8m) in 2009.

RHG expanded its e-book programme to include 25,000 titles worldwide by the end of 2010. In the United States, Bertelsmann said as much as half of first week fiction sales were now in digital.

Rebuck picked out titles from Nigella Lawson, Bill Bryson, Ian McEwan and Sebastian Faulks, among others, as key performers. She said: "E-book sales continue apace—far outstripping even the most ambitious industry predictions—and increasingly we are looking to innovate in the digital space."

Rebuck said though the year started slowly, growing consumer confidence and "a show-stopping Christmas" meant the company was able to finish the year "ahead of our expectations".

Looking ahead to 2011, Rebuck said: "We are in changing times, but with change comes great opportunity. As publishers we are best placed to be the curators of our authors' work and be the trusted guide to navigate through this changing world—a world that will still have an appetite for the best stories, written by the best people and published by the best teams."

The results report highlighted the success of Tony Blair's A Journey for Random House UK, and said "almost a third of all titles on the Sunday Times bestseller lists" were published by Random House UK.

Meanwhile, for Bertelsmann's club and bookselling business operated by Direct Group, Ebit fell from 14.3% to €24m (£21.2m) and revenues fell to €1.1bn (£970.2m).

Across the Bertelsmann Group, revenues increased by 4.5% to €15.8bn (£13.9bn) in 2010, with profit increasing to €656m (£578.7m) from €35m (£30.8m). For 2011, Bertelsmann said it expects its profits to increase further. Bertelsmann c.f.o. 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".

Bertelsmann AG chairman and c.e.o. Hartmut Ostrowski said: "2010, the year of our 175th anniversary, was one of Bertelsmann's most successful years to date. We quickly overcame the economic crisis and advanced our business considerably . . . We will continue to advance into growth regions such as China and India, and will build entirely new businesses."