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Obama Book Boom Buoys Bertelsmann’s Sales

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the AccorHotels Arena during a book tour to promote her memoir “Becoming” in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

German mass media giant Bertelsmann posted Thursday its best first quarter figures for more than a decade as Michelle Obama’s memoirs remained a top seller into the new year.

Bertelsmann booked a 5.4-percent year-on-year sales increase in the first three months, to 4.2 billion euros ($4.7 billion), with a sizeable chunk down to Obama’s memoir “Becoming”.

The book has now sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Bertelsmann said the increased sales represented the “highest first quarter revenues since 2008”.

Chief executive Thomas Rabe said the group “looks back on one of its best first quarters in recent years,” driven by the success of its digital platforms and book sales.

“The strategic expansion of our high-growth businesses in recent years is increasingly bearing fruit,” added Rabe.

Part of Bertelsmann’s success is down to publishing arm Penguin Random House, which “delivered a strong bestseller performance” including Obama’s book.

But since taking over the family group in 2012, Rabe has also invested more than four billion euros to catch up on the digital market.

Bertelsmann now sells music, online training and multiple specialised magazine titles, as well as owning Europe’s largest broadcast group RTL — which on Thursday also reported glowing results.

The parent company says the future looks rosy in 2019.

“We continue to expect higher revenues and continued high operating profitability for the full year. Our group profit should exceed the billion-euro mark again,” predicted chief financial officer Bernd Hirsch.

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Michelle Obama
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