A strong fourth quarter helped Simon & Schuster finish 2015 with a $2 million increase in revenue over 2014. Operating income at the publisher increased 12.9%, parent company CBS reported. Total revenue hit $780 million, while income rose to $114 million from $101 million in 2014.
Sales in the fourth quarter increased 8% over the final period of 2014, rising to $233 million. Operating income jumped 36%, to $34 million. Bestselling titles for the quarter included The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King, and Crippled America by Donald Trump.
S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy said sales in the fourth quarter were up in all areas of the company thanks in part to a strong lineup of titles. The rise in print sales during the quarter helped offset a drop in sales of e-books. Backlist titles also performed well, Reidy noted.
The trends in the final period reflected much of what S&S saw during the first nine months of 2015, with print book sales on the rise and e-book sales on the decline. For all of 2015 digital sales (including digital audio) accounted for 25% of S&S revenue, down from 26% in 2014.
Reidy estimated that sales of digital audio rose between 35% and 40% in the year. The increase in print sales was aided by strong backlist orders throughout the year, and particularly in the fourth quarter. During the fourth quarter, S&S received large re-orders from its major accounts, Reidy said.
In addition to a strong showing by the audio division, sales in S&S's children's group rose in the year, led by sales of Dork Diaries 9 and Dork Diaries 10. Sales in the adult group were about even with 2014, Reidy said, as books by YouTube personalities did very well, along with new books by Stephen King and David McCullough. Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See also continued to sell well throughout the year. Sales at S&S's international divisions were up in local currencies, although the impact of foreign exchange hurt final results for Canada.
Looking ahead to 2016, S&S has placed some big bets, signing books by Amy Schumer and Bruce Springsteen for significant sums. Reidy, however, is confident these titles will do well. Other titles that S&S expects to sell in large numbers next year include Shoe Dog by Phil Knight; Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave; Zero K by Don DeLillo; and Foreign Agent by Brad Thor.