Driven by sales from a number of new titles, including Ron Suskind's ThePrice of Loyalty, Mary Higgins Clark's Nighttime Is My Time and Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies, plus continuing solid sales for Dan Brown's Angels & Demons and Deception Point, revenue rose about 6% at Simon & Schuster for the first quarter ended March 31. "It's been an excellent start to 2004," said S&S president Jack Romanos, who added that profits were "up significantly" due to a combination of sales gains and improved efficiencies. And while the adult segment has drawn all the headlines, sales of children's books are up over last year as well, he said.
In addition to a number of hot titles, Romanos noted that S&S was benefiting from "a much better marketplace." He said that sales "turned cold" for S&S last February, but in 2004, "it's been smooth sailing from day one." One soft spot is backlist. Romanos said if the Brown titles were removed from the calculation, backlist "would be a little less than last year." He speculated that the weak backlist performance—which is occurring across the industry—is because publishers are waiting longer before moving good-selling hardcovers into paperback, limiting the sales potential of backlist titles.
S&S has just released one of its bestselling hardcovers of 2003, Hillary Clinton's Living History, in trade paperback. The title, with a first printing of 500,000 copies, is number 13 on the New York Times paperback bestseller list for May 2. Romanos believes that the trade paper edition of History, combined with Bob Woodward's new Plan of Attack, will strengthen the second quarter, and offset the strong performance of History in last year's comparable quarter. Romanos said he has been encouraged about second-quarter prospects by the strong April performance. "I hope the doldrums are permanently behind us. We are certainly operating in a much more vibrant marketplace," Romanos said.