Sales at academic and professional publisher Rowman & Littlefield rose 8% in 2013, to $51 million. Revenue at its affiliated company, the distribution businesses NBN and NBN international, were about flat at $79 million.
Jed Lyons, CEO of both companies, said the increases at R&L were driven by higher sales of upper level college texts, increased sales to libraries and an 18% increase in its K-8 educational publishing division. The purchase of Down East Books also contributed to the sales gain. While sales of e-books have slowed for many trade houses, e-book sales rose 61% at R&L and now account for about 10% of revenue. Lyons said e-book sales are benefiting from gains of both new titles and backlist. Profit improvement was led by the decision reached early in 2013 consolidate some of the imprints the company acquired over the years under the Rowman & Littlefield banner.
Lyons said he is optimistic that R&L will see similar growth rates in sales and profits in 2014. “This is the most optimistic I’ve been about our business in 10 years,” Lyons said.
As for the distribution unit, Lyons said he is satisfied with its performance. NBN has 90 clients while NBNi has 120. After significantly cutting its number of clients several years ago NBN added a few that had the right fit with NBN, Lyons said. “We’re at a good level,” Lyons said.