Publishers on top

<p><a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/in-depth/feature/51984-hachette-steals-the-... morning we publish the charts of the top ten publishers</a>, showing their market share over 2007, as calculated by the all-seeing eye of Nielsen. At the top of the chart is Hachette, which has pulled away slightly from Random House. Both Random and Hachette have been hoovering up smaller competitors but even accounting for that Hachette is showing faster organic growth. It grew by 5.1% last year, against 4.1% in &lsquo;06. Random grew 2.7% in that year, but shrank by 2.5% in 2007.&nbsp; Beneath the big two Penguin had a tiny dip while Harper Collins had a tiny rise. <br />
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So the running order of the top four is unchanged. Underneath comes Bloomsbury, flushed with the success of the biggest and last Harry Potter. The importance of the boy wizard to our friends in Soho Square is illustrated by this zig-zag: 2005, revenue of &pound;62m; 2006, revenue of &pound;31m; 2007 revenue of &pound;75m. So Bloomsbury shove Pan Mac down to number 6, but my guess is David North will be pretty relaxed about that, unless JK discovers Harry&rsquo;s long-lost sister or some such. Pan Mac had a great year, with double-digit growth, confounding the hoary &lsquo;middle-ground is no-man&rsquo;s land&rsquo; chestnut. Also growing are OUP and Simon &amp; Schuster, while Egmont muscle in on the top ten at the expense of Elesvier. <br />
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Total sales of the top ten rose from &pound;1058m in 06 to &pound;1135m in 07, giving a trend growth rate of over 7 per cent. For a mature market like publishing this is phenomenally good; in fact, almost exactly half of that is due to Harry Potter. Take him out and the real growth is three or four cent, pretty much bang on the trend line of recent years.<br />
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Running a big publisher is a hard, but addictive job: success comes from big, surprise, hits that by definition are almost impossible to predict, yet you succeed by organising your business to be lucky, on average, more often than your competitors. That is where taste, skill and organisational flair come in.</p>
<p>Of course, these figures are all about revenue and they are solely for the UK, so quite who is running the best, most profitable business is nigh on impossible to say, Anyone can buy market share by acquiring rivals or boost sales by selling a tenner for a fiver; growing your business by profitable organic growth takes concentration and commitment.</p>
<p>2008 will clearly be a tougher year for the wider economy, with slower growth than we have been accustomed to in the easy years of the recent past.&nbsp; Publishing is traditionally counter-cyclical, and it will be interesting to see if the sector retains the folk-memory of how to prosper in straightened circumstances.</p>