March 27, 2013

Random House profits up 75% on Fifty Shades sales


I was wrong. Last July I predicted that massive sales of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy might double Random House profits in 2012. Well, the numbers are finally out—and last year’s profits increased only by 75 percent over the firm’s 2011 take.

According to Publishers Weekly, Random House sales “rose 22.5%, to 2.14 billion euros, while operating EBIT skyrocketed 75.6% to 325 million euros.” A dispatch in Publishers Lunch (subscription required) succinctly states the obvious: that 2012 sales jumped on “the extraordinary sales of over 70 million copies of EL James’s Fifty Shades trilogy sold in English, German and Spanish editions.”

At parent company Bertelsmann, again according to Publishers Lunch, “sales rose more modestly, up 4.5 percent to 16.065 billion euros, while operating ebit and group profit were roughly flat—making Random House a significant performer within the company’s portfolio.”

It’s a great irony in our day: a book publisher is generating profits for a television and industrial conglomerate! It’s the fantasy of media moguls from the 1990s, finally realized. Excerpt, of course, it’s only one series…. and what comes next?

Oh right, this.



Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.