In his annual letter to Random House employees, company chairman and CEO Peter Olson wrote that despite a "weakened book economy," the publisher is on course to meet its operating results in North America for 2002.
He credited the performance to a publishing program that produced 182 New York Times bestsellers plus a large number of prizewinners, and to cost controls. Olson noted that the "ongoing financial cutbacks this year have been in the areas of operating expenses and corporate overhead, not in support of our books." Total revenue in the year "outpace[d] our sales performance of the last two years," Olson wrote, while the return rate was "well under 30%."
Random employees, however, will not be able to rest on their laurels. Olson said he does not see "a return to those glorious prosperous days of the late nineties" any time soon. The industry is facing "a tough year ahead in the retail sector," he wrote, adding that "the pressures from internal cost containment and external publisher competition will be unyielding at a time of continuing title-sell-through softness at retail." Olson closed by observing that "even more so than in 2002, the challenges ahead will require our individual and combined commitment to responsible publishing management to be focused and unwavering."