As more and more reports come in, it looks like 2014 was not a good year for the major publishers. Over the past couple weeks, both Simon and Schuster and Pearson have published annual reports and neither had good news to share.
Revenue and profits fell in 2014 at Simon & Schuster, parent company CBS reported. Sales declined 3.8%, to $778 million, while operating profit dropped 5.6%, to $101 million.
The publisher, which saw sales and earnings rise in 2013, closed 2014 on a soft note with sales down 4.4% in the fourth quarter, compared to the final period of 2013, and operating income down 30%.
One reason for the 2014 decline in revenue and earnings was also a drop in digital sales. E-books accounted for 23.2% of S&S sales last year, down from 24.4% in 2013. Total digital revenue, which includes downloadable audio, generated 26.4% of revenue, down from 27.1% in 2013.
S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy attributed the decline to a lack of hit releases in 2014 as compared to 2013. (And who knows, high ebook prices may have contributed.)
And earlier today Pearson reported similar disappointing earnings from their stake in PRH. There’s no news on digital revenues, but Pearson did report that:
Pearson reported 2014 earnings of £69 million, after taxes, from its 47% stake in Penguin Random House. This figure is down from £78 million in 2013. PRH’s 2014 earnings contribution was lower because of taxes. For the year Pearson reported total revenues of £4.8 billion and operating earnings of £720 million.
According to Pearson’s preliminary, unaudited 2014 financial report, Penguin Random House results benefited from strong performances in children’s publishing and a variety of million-copy bestselling film and TV tie-ins. Bertelsmann will report full Penguin Random House results at the end of March.
Penguin Random House is the single largest trade publisher in the US, and one of the larger conglomerates in the world. Is it just me, or does that make the £69 million in profits sound awfully small?
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