First quarter sales in 2014 fell 11% at Simon & Schuster, to $153 million, but operating income rose to $11 million from $10 million in the first quarter of 2013, parent company CBS reported.
CBS attributed the profit improvement to a decrease in operating expenses and S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy said part of the lower costs were tied to lower marketing costs that reflected the reduced sales volume compared to last year's first period. A year ago, S&S benefited from some strong titles that carried over from the holidays and a number of popular movie tie-ins. The lack of new big hits also ate into e-book sales, which fell about 14% in the quarter and accounted for 29% of revenue, down from 30% in the first quarter of 2013. "It was a bit of a quiet winter," Reidy said. "There weren't books that got people excited."
She is confident that things will improve in the rest of the year. The publisher has seen good sales from some recent releases including a John Wayne biography and The Opposite of Loneliness. Reidy also believes S&S will have a year-long hit on its hands with All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr that is a #1 Indie pick. And then there is the new Hillary Clinton book due out in the middle of June. "It's a great book," Reidy said, adding that she hopes Hard Choices will drive consumers into stores. Perhaps with the promotion planned for the Clinton book on her mind, Reidy said she is sure marketing costs, and sales, will be higher for the rest of the year than in the quarter.