News Corp released its quarterly financial report on Monday. Revenues from its book publishing division, HarperCollins, decreased by $20 million to $389 million.
The decline was explained thusly:
Revenues in the quarter decreased $20 million, or 5%, compared to the prior year, primarily due to the absence of revenues from Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, partially offset by the continued expansion of HarperCollins’ global footprint and the popularity of front-list titles such as The Black Widow by Daniel Silva, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and Jesus Always by Sarah Young. Digital sales represented 20% of Consumer revenues for the quarter. Segment EBITDA for the quarter increased $6 million, or 14%, from the prior year due to the mix of titles.
While the data may seem straightforward, News Corp obfuscated HarperCollins’ digital revenues. “Digital revenues” refers to both ebook and audiobook sales, but it is also explained in terms of consumer revenues rather than total HC revenues.
Consumers accounted for $374 million in HC revenues last quarter, and $392 million for the same quarter last fiscal year. Digital accounted for 20% of those figures, or $74.8 million and $78.4 million.
So on the face of it, HarperCollins’ ebook revenues were down. But what with the ongoing rise in audiobook sales, it is a near certainty that HarpeCollins ‘ebook revenues were down significantly last quarter.
This continues a trend which began when HarperCollins reinstituted retail price maintenance in the ebook market. RPM, or agency pricing as it is called in the book publishing industry, is a market condition where a manufacturer stifles price competition by forcing all retailers to sell at the manufacturer’s, or in this case book publisher’s, price.
As HarperCollins and other major publishers have shown, it is a great way to reduce one’s revenues when used in a otherwise competitive market like ebooks.
image by ActuaLitté