Andrew AlbaneseRandom House parent company Bertelsmann has put a cap on a record year for the global publishing giant with an announcement that worldwide revenue at RH rose almost 23%, while the companies’ profits operating margin jumped almost 76%.

“Those are both astounding figures,” Andrew Albanese, senior writer for Publishers Weekly, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “So what’s the key driver there? Of course, the more than 70 million copies sold, in all formats worldwide, for 50 Shades of Grey.

And as the proposed merger for Random House and Penguin moves forward, the two publishers will ultimately need to reconcile their e-book sales policies for libraries. Penguin said this week that it will ease existing restrictions on lending e-books that “window” its frontlist e-books, which until the news, had been held back from library lending for the first six months of publication.

“But, don’t get too excited,” Albanese cautions. “With the Penguin/Random House merger, there are far more unanswered questions, as the two publishers’ lending programs are very, very different. Random sells it entire catalog – although at higher prices – while Penguin only works through vendors, 3M and Baker and Taylor, and offering one-year licenses.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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