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Gutersioh, Germany

1835-1945 1947-1980 1981-1995 1998-2003


1835-1945   [Back to Top]

1835 Carl Bertelsmann began as a publisher of hymn books and devotional pamphlets in Pietist eastern Westphalia, Germany.
1848 Carl Bertelsmann, a conservative supports the Prussian king in the war.
1850 Carl Bertlesman dies
1850 Heinrich Bertelsmann takes over the company. His philosophy of management includes acquisitionof publication houses that are not successful.
1853 Bertelsmann publishes the Missionsharfe (Missionary Harp) hymn book, a bestseller.
1881 Friederike Bertelsmann marries Johannes Mohn.
1887 Heinrick Bertelsman dies and the company passes to his son-in-law Johannes Mohn.
1921 Heinrich Mohn takes over the business.
1925 Bennett Cerf and Donald S. Klopfer acquire Modern Library from Boni and Liveright, a New York firm, for $215,000.
1927 Cerf and Klopfer name their joint publishing venture Random House.
1930s Random House publishes Eugene O'Neill, James Joyce (not without controversy), Robinson Jeffers, Isak Dinesen, William Faulkner, Edgar Snow, and Jean de Brunhoff, among others.
1930-1945 Heinrich Mohn maintains close ties to the Bekonnende Kirkche, which opposed Hitler. The company was closed in 1944 because it did not contribute to the war effort.

1947-1980   [Back to Top]

1947 Reinhard Mohn returns from a prisoner of war camp and takes the reins of the company..
1948 Reinhold Mohn forms the Bertelsmann book club (Lesering). These book clubs were a form of direct sales from publishers and were extremely successful.
1947 Random House publishes the American College Dictionary, the first in a long and prestigeous line of Random House dictionaries.
1957 Random House goes public.
1960 Random House acquires Alfred A. Knopf for $3 million.
1960 Random House acquires L.W. Singer, a textbook publisher.
1961 Random House purchases Pantheon Books and is faced with open protests from authors who fear that the publisher will merge the imprint with others.
1964 Bertelsmann purchases UFA (TV and film production company).
1965 Random House is purchased by Radio Corporation of America (RCA).
1971 Bennett Cerf dies.
1973 Bertelsmann sales read DM 1 billion.
1973 Random House acquires Ballantine Books
1976 Bertelsmann purchases Gruner + Jahr (magazine publishers), continuing Mohn's practice of puchasing firms which could be purchased cheaply because of problems in the business, placing trusted colleagues in leading posts, and leaving them to turn the company around.
1977 Bertelsmann purchase a 51% interest in Bantam Books.
1980 Random House is acquired by Advance Publications and becomes part of the Newhouse family's media empire.

1981-1995   [Back to Top]

1981 Reinhard Mohn retires and becomes charman of the supervisory board.
1981 Bertelsmann completes the purchase of Bantam Books.
1982 Random House purchases Fawcett Books.
1984 Random House Purchases Times Books.
1985-86 Bertelsmann acquires Doubleday-Dell and RCA Records (later merged into the BMG, Bertelsmann Music Group)for an estimated $800 million.
1986 Random House purchases Fodor's Travel Guides.
1987 Random House purchases Chatto, Virago, Bodley Head & Jonathan Cape Ltd.
1988 Random House sells its college division to McGraw-Hill.
1988 Random House purchases Crown Publishing Company.
1993 Bertelsmann restructures into Books (Doubleday), Gruner + Jahr (magazines and newspapers), BMG Entertainment, and Bertelsmann Industry (printing, paper production, etc.) .
1995 In a series of acquisitions, Bertelsmann acquires several properties, including magazine from the New York Times Co., and the Italian music publisher Ricordi.
1995 Bertelsmann partners with American Online to set up online service in Germany.

1998-2003   [Back to Top]

1997 Random House UK acquires the adult trade division of Reed Books.
1998 Bertelsman acquires Random House (2002 sales $2.09 billion) for $1.4 billion and merges it with Bandom Doubleday Dell (BDD).
1999 Bertelsmann purchases a 50% stake in barnesand
1999 Bertelsmann acquires 85% of Springer Verlag, including its scientific journals.
2000 Bertelsmann sells its 50% interest in AOL back to Time Warner.
2003 Bertelsmann sells Bertelsmann Springer (2002 sales of $766 million) to Cinven and Candover, venture capitalist firms, for 1.05 billion euros. There were 40 bidders for this division.
2003 Barnes and Noble purchases Bertelsmann's interest in for $164 million.
2003 Bertelsmann's Random House division plans takeover of the Ulstein Heyne List (UHL), the book publishing division of Axel Springer. However, antitrust concerns by the German government have discouraged the original plan, and the company seems to be interest at this time in taking over only the Heyne Verlag portion of the division.