That changed this week. Something tells me that they aren't quite so eager to let us in on just how poor their ebook sales have been since they regained control of their ebook prices in early 2015.
Over the past week three of the Big Five publishers have posted either quarterly, half-annual, or annual reports, and only one even came close to telling a complete story about its ebook sales.
First up is CBS Corp and the few nuggets they shared about Simon & Schuster in the second quarter CBS financial report. Revenues were down overall, and so were ebook sales as a share of said revenues (from 24% last year):
Publishing revenues for the second quarter of 2016 were $187 million compared with $199 million for the same prior-year period. Digital revenues represented 23% of Publishing's total revenues for the second quarter of 2016. Best-selling titles included End of Watch by Stephen King and Foreign Agent by Brad Thor.
Publishing operating income of $26 million for the second quarter of 2016 was up 4% from $25 million for the same prior-year period, as the revenue decline was more than offset by lower production, selling, and inventory costs.
That is literally everything that CBS was willing to say about ebooks, and if you think that is sparse then you should see what Pearson said about Penguin Random House.
This is the entirety of PRH's report on ebook revenue stats (aside from a few useless factoids):
Penguin Random House had a solid performance in the first half of 2016 with reduced demand for e-books following last year’s industry-wide digital-terms changes offset by the phasing of further integration benefits.
I am not joking; that's it. eBooks aren't even mentioned in the transcript of the investor conference call.
Apparently PRH is so embarrassed by its ebook stats that they aren't even going to give any figures.
I bet Lagardère wishes they had thought of that, because the slides for their year-end financial report show that ebooks, as a share of revenues, peaked in 2013:
Lagardère's US revenues were essentially flat in 2015 (down 0.3%). Their overall book publishing revenues were up 10%, but that reflects activity in a half dozen different markets so it means less to us.
So there you have it; one publisher obliquely referred to declining ebook sales, another provided minimal stats. and a third which revealed just things have gone awry since the return to agency.
Do you suppose it's too soon to pressure Amazon for new contracts?
image by mikecogh