Led by another big contribution from digital audio, operating income at Simon & Schuster rose 7% in the first quarter of 2018 over the same period last year. Earnings were $16 million in the most recent quarter, up from $15 million a year ago, parent company CBS reported. Revenue in the quarter was $160 million, down by $1 million from the comparable period in 2017.
S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy said sales of digital audio jumped 43% in the quarter. She attributed the increase to some big hits, such as Jason Matthews's Red Sparrow, as well as the continuing overall growth of the digital audio market. S&S raised its titles output by about 15% in 2017, and Reidy expects output to increase another 10% in 2018. The company is also planning to produce original audio content sometime in 2018.
Print and e-book sales were both down slightly in the quarter and while backlist sales were solid, Reidy said frontlist sales were a little soft. She while that there have been two huge political books (Fire and Fury and A Higher Loyalty, both published by Macmillan) "the rest of the market feels a little sleepy."
Reidy is hopeful S&S can provide its own spark in the current quarter. She said there has been lots of media attention for The Restless Wave by John McCain, which is due out May 22. Other potential bestsellers include The Outsider by Stephen King, The Death of Mrs.Westaway by Ruth Ware, and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman.