Czech publisher Albatros flies high with Vyšehrad deal

Consolidation on the Czech publishing scene is proceeding apace following the announcement that one of the country’s biggest publishers is taking over one of the oldest companies still on the market.

Illustrative photo: Eva TurečkováIllustrative photo: Eva Turečková Albatros Media, one of the biggest publishers in the country with annual turnover of around 850 million and profit of around 77 million crowns in 2016. It is taking over the publisher Vyšehrad, one of the oldest dating back to 1934. It has much slimmer annual sales of around 18 million crowns and recorded a loss of 500,000 crowns in 2016. Vyšehrad publishes around 80 titles a year and has hitherto been owned by three private shareholders.

Albatros says that it plans largely at the moment to keep Vyšehrad as it is with a largely independent role at the editorial level within the bigger overall company. But the parent company will have a more hands on role with regard to marketing and sales.

Albatros has been on a spending spree in recent years. It has purchased around a dozen other publishers to establish itself as a major player on the market. It’s estimated to have a market share on the book wholesale market of around 17 percent.

In recent, for example, it bought up the publisher Knihu Zlín, which had the right to the hit detective series penned by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo. The books, often featuring the veteran detective Harry Hole, have been a major publishing success among Czech readers. Albatros also has the rights to books published by British author J.K. Rowling and those by Disney, such as the Star Wars series.

The Vyšehrad publisher is in a very different firmament. It has specialised in history, philosophy, and classical literature. That’s not to say that Harry Hole does not have some homespun philosophy of his own.

Albatros says the latest acquisition is aimed at boosting its position on the market for books aimed at adult readers, where it regards itself a having a weaker position than on the markets for children’s books and books aimed at the youth market. It has been seeking to augment its share of book sales for adults for around eight years and has also branched out in publication of technical and business books.

Following the latest move, Albatros says it is still on the acquisition trail.