Large book publishers’ most recent earnings reports reflect a new normal: Revenues are roughly flat, but profits are up—in large part due to e-books.
In the 2011 Bertelsmann annual report released this week, Random House said it has nearly 40,000 titles available as e-books worldwide, and while revenues were down for the year, “operating EBIT was higher year on year, especially in the United States. This rise was helped by continued cost-cutting measures and lower return rates in North America and the United Kingdom due to increased e-book sales.”
Similarly, Pearson’s 2011 annual report shows that Penguin’s sales are roughly flat, while adjusted operating profit rose by 5 percent, again due in part to e-book sales. “Penguin saw e-book revenues in 2011 double on the previous year,” the report says. “In 2011 they a