Higher sales of print books and digital audiobooks drove revenue and profit gains in the first quarter of 2019 at Simon & Schuster, and the same scenario played out for the second quarter, which ended June 30, 2019.
According to parent company CBS, sales at S&S rose 5.3% over the second period ended June 30, 2018, to $218 million. Operating income increased 6.5%, to $33 million, marking the 18th consecutive quarter in which profits have increased. CEO Carolyn Reidy said sales were up in all domestic divisions and led by the children's group, where books by Cassandra Clare and Rachel Renée Russell did well. Bestselling adult titles included Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern, The Mueller Report, and The Pioneers by David McCullough. Digital audiobook sales rose 14% in the quarter, offsetting declines in physical audio.
In a rare occurrence, e-book sales were also up over last year's second quarter. Reidy attributed the e-book gain to some movie tie-ins and a particular mix of books rather than as a sign that the e-book market is rebounding. Still, she said, with print sales increasing and the combination of digital audio and e-books making for a consistent contribution from its digital efforts, the market is generally solid. The biggest challenge Reidy sees, not just for S&S but for all of publishing, is generating interest in, and sales of, midlist books.
For the first six months of 2019, revenue at the publisher was up 4.1% over the comparable period in 2018, to $382 million, while operating profits increased 6.5%, to $50 million.
S&S has its usual "strong" lineup of titles planned for the second half of the year, Reidy said, including books by established bestselling authors Ruth Ware, Philippa Gregory, and Stephen King. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are teaming up to write The Book of Gutsy Women, while the father-son duo of Nelson and Alex DeMille have collaborated on The Deserter. In the children's area, a new series by Stuart Gibbs will debut in the fall with Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation.
Reidy said S&S is keeping an eye on what is going on with possible 10% tariffs on books, and said the company has explored various options. But without knowing what will actually happen on the tariff front, she said, it is hard to make firm plans.