A record number of bestsellers helped to boost revenue at Kensington Publishing 17%, to an estimated $58 million, in the fiscal year ended September 30. Among those who hit the bestseller lists this year were Fern Michaels and Lisa Jackson, two authors that Kensington publisher Steve Zacharius said the company has been building for several years. Those efforts paid off in 2006, as Jackson's mass market original Fatal Burn has more than one million copies in print and her hardcover Shiver has 259,000 copies in print. Michaels's Fool Me Once has over 110,000 copies in print in hardcover. The surprise bestseller in the year was Maddox's Alphabet of Manliness, which has 190,000 copies in print in hardcover.
During the year, Kensington cut the output of its mass market line 11%, to about 400 titles, but sales rose 6%, which Zacharius attributed to strong sell-through and low returns. The trade paperback segment was the fastest growing in the year, at 14%, while hardcover sales grew 4%. Sales to all market channels were up solidly, although sales of the company's four book clubs have been down. The company continues to test new clubs, but Zacharius did not sound optimistic about launching new ones. "It's too easy to order books online," he explained.
Fiscal 2007 has had a good start and Zacharius is anticipating another solid year, helped in part by new technologies. Kensington is expanding its e-book offerings; although sales are "very small, they're growing," Zacharius said. He is expecting a greater contribution from Kensington's use of print-on-demand, estimating that POD sales could reach $750,000 this year. "That's found money," Zacharius said. Kensington is creating its own digital archive to facilitate its involvement in POD and other new digital platforms. On the more traditional front, Zacharius said Kensington will announce three new co-ventures early in 2007. The company is also aggressively looking for acquisitions and has hired legendary M&A guru Martin Levin to help in the search.