Operating income at Simon & Schuster rose 32% in 2013, to $106 million on a sales increase of 2.4%, to $809 million, parent company CBS reported. The publisher closed 2013 with a solid fourth quarter with sales up 4.6% over the fourth quarter of 2012 and income up 30%. Sales in the quarter were $225 million and operating income $35 million. Fourth quarter sales were driven by an increase in sales of print books, something CEO Carolyn Reidy attributed in part to the mix of titles, especially the strong physical sales of the three Duck Dynasty books--Happy, Happy, Happy, Si-Cology 1, Commander Family--plus Rush Limbaugh's Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.
Reidy was quick to add that digital sales rose in the quarter as well. For the full year of 2013 digital sales increased about 22% and accounted for approximately 27% of revenue for the year compared to 23% in 2012. Reidy said the S&S is still seeing strong e-book sales gains in frontlist commercial fiction. She was encouraged by what she believes is a more stable environment for print books and noted that the combination of e-book sales increases and a good print performance enabled S&S to post top line growth and a record profit. Earnings in 2012 were impacted by costs associated with the e-book price-fixing litigation.
S&S's U.S. unit has the strongest performance in the year with the children's division leading the way with sales up about 10%. Children’s bestsellers were led by City of Bones, Clockwork Princess, and Dork Diaries 6 and the Dork series now has about 13 million books in print. Strong audio sales of the Duck Dynasty and Limbaugh titles helped to lift sales in that group and the adult division also had a sales increase. "All of [domestic] division did well in the year," Reidy noted. International sales, which had been doing well for most of 2013, softened in the last quarter and sales dipped for the full year.
Overall, Reidy said she is feeling very positive about where S&S stands. She said because of less consumer traffic in retail stores S&S has done a better job in reaching consumers directly and that those efforts will continue. She is also optimistic about 2014, noting that with two books coming from each of three of of the company's most popular authors--Limbaugh, Stephen King and the Dork series--S&S has a solid core on which to build. S&S is still hoping to publish a Hillary Clinton memoir in June (most of the manuscript is in) and it will release the first children's titles from Derek Jeter's new imprint. S&S released its results shortly after the Yankee shortstop announced 2014 would be his last year news that split S&S into two camps--those who were sad to see Jeter depart and those who see it as a chance to get more of his time.