Sales for the third quarter ended September 30 fell 5% at Simon & Schuster, to $210 million, but operating income before depreciation and amortization rose to $39 million from $38 million in the 2011 comparable quarter, parent company CBS reported. Digital sales rose 20% in the quarter, but were offset by lower sales of print titles, though the higher percentage of digital sales helped to increase profits.
The audio division was S&S’ strongest performer in the quarter with sales up by more than 50% driven by digital sales of its Pimsleur Language Program; digital downloads comprised about 2% of total sales while e-books accounted for 19% of revenue in the quarter. CEO Carolyn Reidy told PW she believes that overall digital sales for the full year will end up representing in the low 20% range of S&S revenue. The slower, more sustainable growth of e-book sales will give S&S time to adjust its efforts to keep physical stores a part of the marketplace, Reidy said. “They remain important to discoverability,” Reidy noted about retail outlets.
In the quarter The Price of Politics, Black List and Total Recall did well as did Beautiful Disaster, one of the “female fiction” titles that had been self-published by Jamie McGuire.
Reidy called the market “solid but not overly exciting” heading in to Christmas. Before Hurricane Sandy disrupted things, the final quarter had gotten off to a decent start led by Proof of Heaven which has more than 500,000 copies in print, Perks of Being a Wallflower, that has benefited from the movie and The Bridge, S&S’ first book with Karen Kingsbury published by the company’s Howard Books imprint. “Books have done pretty well all year,” Reidy said, “I hope they hold on for the rest of the year.”
Through the first nine months of 2012, sales were up 3%, to $575, while OIBDA fell to $53 million from $58 million due mainly to costs associated with the Department of Justice e-book price-fixing lawsuit and settlement.