Random House racked up nearly $3 billion in revenues and over $400 million in profits in 2012, driven by huge sales for Fifty Shades of Grey.
Some 70 million digital, print and audio copies of the blockbuster book series were sold between March and Dec. last year. It dominated the ebook best-seller list throughout 2012 and, a year after its publication, the books are still appearing on the list. The company was so successful in 2012 due to Fifty Shades that it gave a $5,000 bonus to most of its 5,000 or so employees.
The phenomenon wasn’t lost on the company’s leadership. Much space in the annual report was dedicated to Fifty Shades and the company divined three lessons from its success: Do things differently; do them quickly; and continue to do everything well. Read more on the lessons the company derived from Fifty Shades.
Up next for Random House, its merger with Penguin.
Related: WSJ’s Jeff Trachtenberg Discusses the Series’ Unprecedented Success | What the Penguin-Random House Logo Might Look Like | Three Lessons Learned From Fifty Shades
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The rest of the day’s top news:
The Next Crop of Publishers (The Shatzkin Files)
The evolution and ebooks and of digital communication is making it more attractive for more companies to publish ebooks. Click to read about the next crop of book publishers, their partners, and why it’s all happening now. Related: Soon, Most People Working at Publishing Books Won’t Be Working at Publishing Companies.
Ebook Sales Lag in Europe (The Inquirer)
The European Commission has identified a crisis in Europe and, no, it’s not Cyprus. It’s that ebooks only make up 2% of total book revenue in European Union countries. The EC’s vice president in charge of “digital agenda” sees a risk of European publishers falling behind.
Harlequin Authors Laud Author Portal (DBW)
Like so many other publishers these days, Harlequin is striving to show authors just how good it can be to them. Its new portal and concierge service is popular among its authors, according to the company.
BiblioCrunch + Wattpad = Better Author Services (DBW)
Publishing services marketplace BiblioCrunch has teamed up with Wattpad to give authors a way to engage with the latter while working with the former.
Digital Disruption in Academic Publishing (DBW)
Is the ivory tower fortified from assault from digital publishing revolutionaries? So far, mostly yes. However, there is serious disruption happening on the fringes of academic publishing.
HMH Appoints First-Ever Chief Content Officer (DBW)
Mary Cullinane is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s first-ever chief content officer. She was formerly the head of innovation for Microsoft Education. She will lead the company’s content production and innovation efforts. Previously, she had been executive vice president of corporate affairs at the company.
Penguin Hires New Digital Business Director (DBW)
Caroline Riordan spent time at Hyperion running its ebook program until March 2011 when she joined a digital firm called Trailer Park as vie president of e-publishing business development.
Why Ebooks Are a Different Genre From Print (The Guardian)
A writer at the UK’s Guardian thinks ebooks are changing what we’re reading and how we’re reading. While that’s obviously true, what does it mean for publishers? Now, nothing. Tomorrow, when the format has been more fully explored, who knows.
Tim Ferriss: Book Publishing Disruptor (Tech Page One)
In an interview with Dell-sponsored tech opinion site Tech Page One, best-selling author Tim Ferriss tells his story of how he’s disrupted the publishing industry. Seems to us that his decision to go with Amazon as the publisher of his latest title did much more to disrupt his own ability to make money from selling books.
Penguin Sues Oregon Library for Infringement (Oregon Live)
Penguin is suing online library American Buddha for publishing full copies online of some of its books still under copyright, including Oil! by Upton Sinclair.
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Image Credit: image via Random House