HarperCollins finished the fiscal year ended June 30, with a $10 million decline in revenue, compared to fiscal 2016. However, parent company News Corp reported that the publisher saw a 7.5% increase in earnings. Revenue slipped to $1.64 billion, from $1.65 billion in fiscal 2016 , but EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) increased to $199 million, up from $185 million in the prior year.
Several factors impacted HC’s sales performance, including the fact that fiscal 2016 had an extra week in it; the shorter fiscal year in 2017 cost HC $19 million. The company also suffered from the negative impact of currency fluctuations.
HC CEO Brian Murray said he was "thrilled" with the year, from both a publishing and financial standpoint.
He noted that during the year, HC was almost able to make up for the sales of Go Set a Watchman (which significantly boosted revenue in fiscal 2016) thanks to strong sales of frontlist and backlist. The titles that led those sales included Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines, and both Jesus Calling and Jesus Always by Sarah Young.
The expansion of HC's global footprint also added to sales. Murray said between now and the end of the calendar year foreign-language sales will represent about 10% of the company's total revenue
Sales of digital audio had double-digit gains in the year, Murray said, helping to offset another stretch of e-book declines. Total digital revenue was about flat, accounting for 19% of consumer sales. Murray said HC is putting almost all of its titles into digital audio, to meet demand for the product.
Murray said the continued decline in e-books isn't a major concern at the moment, noting that in the North American market gains in print book sales made up for the drop in e-book sales. With that said, one of HC's priorities for fiscal 2018 is to expand its physical distribution. In addition to working to help independent stores grow, Murray said HC has been trying to open accounts with other retail chains. He also reiterated his desire to see booksellers experiment with ways to sell books, indicating HC would support any efforts to introduce more innovation and creativity in this area.