Hachette Livre chairman and c.e.o. Arnaud Nourry has said he hopes the group will return to the acquisition trail once parent company Lagardère has finished reorganising its portfolio of activities.
In an interview with Buzz Média-Orange-Le Figaro, Nourry predicted a new wave of mergers among publishers in the next three to five years, especially in the US, in order to compete with Amazon, Google and Apple as the shift to digital continues.
“I hope that Hachette Livre will be able to participate in this concentration, because we must not be left behind,” he said, noting that with a turnover of some €2bn the group is the world’s third largest publisher after Pearson and Penguin Random House.
Questioned about the controversy over Amazon, he said the US concern was Hachette Livre’s largest customer worldwide and that relations are now calm after a period of friction, when the French group was raided by the European competition authorities and was wrongly accused in the US of forming a cartel with Apple.
He is not worried about Amazon’s incursion into publishing, because “we like competition”. Amazon publishes a few hundred English language books a year, whereas Hachette publishes thousands and has not lost a single major author, even if Amazon has tried to entice Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson away, he added.
Commenting on the bill before the French parliament to ban free deliveries of books covered by the fixed price law, he said that Amazon was perhaps “a little too stigmatised” in France, even though it and other American multinationals should think about improving their corporate citizenship over taxes and other “rules of the game".
Having scanned 50,000 of its books, Hachette sells 7% to 8% of its literary titles in digital form and expects to increase the share to 15% next year. Profits are not suffering, Nourry said. “Publishing is the only cultural industry to earn money with digitisation.”