Audiobook Sales Up at HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette
Simon & Schuster finished 2016 with a small drop in revenue compared to 2015 but with a modest increase in earnings, parent company CBS reported. Revenue for the year was $767 million, down 1.8% from 2015 sales of $780 million. Operating income increased 4.4%, to $119 million.
The revenue decline was due in part to a soft fourth quarter in which sales dropped 10.3%, to $209 million, but earnings increased 5.8%, to $36 million. The sales drop in the quarter was attributed to difficult comparisons to the last quarter of 2015, when Stephen King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams was a big bestseller.
S&S’s strongest performing division in 2016 was audio, which benefited from another year of double-digit growth in digital audio, Reidy said. The increase in sales in digital audio helped to offset some of the decline in e-books, but total digital sales lost one percentage point in terms of its overall contribution to company revenues.
Lagardère released its 4th-quarter financial report last week. Hachette’s parent company reported that its publishing revenues were up, just not in the US or France:
Revenue for 2016 came in at €2,264 million, up 2.5% like-for-like and up 2.6% on a consolidated basis. The difference reflects a €70 million positive scope effect due mainly to the acquisition of Perseus in the United States, and a €68 million negative foreign exchange effect, relating chiefly to the depreciation of the pound sterling.
Business growth in 2016 was driven by the United Kingdom (up 11.0%), thanks to the success of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in English worldwide (excluding the United States and Canada), and by the solid performance of Partworks (up 5.7%), especially in Japan, Spain and Argentina. In France (up 1.5%), the good performance of Education driven by curricular reform was partly offset by an unfavourable comparison effect linked to the success of Astérix in 2015, and by a less intensive release schedule in General Literature.
In the United States, business was down 12.4%, held back by a less intensive release schedule than in fourth-quarter 2015, despite further growth in audiobooks and Distribution.
NewsCorp reported generally more positive results with its book publishing division, HarperCollins, in its 2nd fiscal quarter financial statement.
Profits jumped 32% at HarperCollins in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 over the comparable period in fiscal 2016. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $75 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2016, up from $57 million a year ago. Revenue in the quarter rose 4%, to $466 million.
HC also benefited from a 3% increase in digital sales in the quarter which was led by higher sales of digital audiobooks. News Corp CFO Bedi Singh noted that the most recent quarter was the first time in two years digital sales rose over comparisons to the comparable period in the previous year Digital sales accounted for 16% of HC revenues in the second quarter.
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