Simon & Schuster reported revenue of $145 million in the first quarter of 2016, even though its sales were flat for the period, matching those of 2015. Operating income rose to $13 million from $12 million in the 2015 first quarter, according to S&S parent company CBS. The 8% gain in earnings was due to lower production and selling costs.
Among the publisher’s top performers in the quarter was Lady Midnight: The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare which helped to drive a 23% gain in sales in the children's division. Other children's books that sold well in the quarter included To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jerry Han and Death Weavers by Brandon Mull.
Sales were down by single digits in the adult division, which S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy attributed in part to very strong sales of All The Light We Cannot See last year. Reidy was encouraged by the official launch of the North Star Way imprint in the quarter which had its first book, On Fire, hit the bestsellers list.
Sales of digital audio were up by double digits in the quarter and S&S continues to add more titles to the format, including doing more digital-only audiobooks. E-book sales were down slightly. Over all, digital accounted for about 28% of total revenue in the quarter, down from 31% in the first quarter of 2015 (in the first quarter of 2014, digital represented 29% of revenue.). Reidy thinks that e-books sales have largely stabilized and she expects digital sales for all of 2016 to be about flat with 2015 with digital audio up and e-books dipping slightly.
Reidy said there were no surprises in the quarter. "The market responded as we expected," she said. Reidy expects a strong market reception to a number of new titles planned for later this year, including books by Stephen King, Bruce Springsteen, Catherine Coulter, Jacyee Dugard and Amy Schumer.