After falling 12% in the six-month period ended December 31, 2022, sales steadied in the quarter ended March 31, 2023, at HarperCollins, though earnings fell again, parent company News Corp reported. Revenue was even in the quarter compared to a year ago, holding at $515 million. Excluding the negative impact of foreign currency fluctuations, sales would have risen 2%.

News Corp credited higher sales of Christian books for improving the sales picture. Trade titles that sold well included the Pulitzer Prize–winning Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver and Never, Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher. A decline in e-book sales was offset by an increase in downloadable audiobooks.

Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, also told analysts that sales were aided by improved orders from Amazon; a large drop in orders from the e-tailer had been a key factor in depressing sales in the last half of 2022. Elaborating, Thomson said that News Corp and HC believe the adjustments Amazon needed to make have been completed, and with the belief that whatever needed be reset at Amazon has been reset, “we have more confidence in the profitability of HarperCollins.”

For the third quarter, however, earnings fell 9%, to $61 million, a much slower decline compared to the previous two quarters. Still, News Corp said that manufacturing, freight, and distribution costs all increased in the quarter, though increases have moderated. Layoffs at HC offset some of the higher expenses, News Corp said. HC began a round of layoffs last year designed to cut its North America workforce by 5%. Recent cuts came in late April, when HC closed Harper Design and moved its titles to other imprints.

News Corp said it expects its companywide “headcount reductions” program to save $160 million annually, more than the $130 million in savings it had promised investors. News Corp CFO Susan Panuccio told analysts that with the cuts HC has already made to its workforce, profits in HC’s current quarter should improve because of “lower employee costs.”

For the first nine months of fiscal 2023 (which ends June 30, 2023), HC sales were down 9%, to $1.53 billion, and profits fell 42%, to $151 million. While the News Corp financial release said cost pressures are expected to continue to impact the business in the near term, Thomson had a upbeat message for analysts: “We have an attractive roster of books in the upcoming quarters, so we believe we are on a journey to the sunlit uplands.”