Penguin Canada is one of the first major companies to recap 2007, issuing a release that said for the first time in its 30-year history, revenue at the publisher topped C$100 million. The increase came despite pricing issues tied to the strength of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart. Among the company’s international hits were A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Eat, Pray, Love, which combined to sell approximately 750,000 copies in Canada. Penguin Canada president and publisher David Davidar said that “every part” of the company’s divisions contributed to gains in the year.
Penguin received a late boost with Oprah Winfrey’s selection of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett for her book club. The Oprah selection resulted in advance orders of 77,000 copies, and followed on the popularity of Follett’s current hit, World Without End. Penguin said that since October, it has shipped almost 250,000 copies of the two books.
Among Penguin’s top selling Canadian authors in the year were Jack Whyte and Stuart McLean. Whyte’s titles which included Knights of the Black and White which shipped 107,000 copies in mass market, sold more than 800,000 copies last year, while McLean’s works sold over 1 million.
Sales from books were augmented in the year by Penguin’s largest ever foreign rights sale of the prequel to Anne of Green Gables. Before Green Gables was authorized by the estate of L.M. Montgomery and is being written by Budge Wilson. The book will be published later this year, the 100th anniversary of the release of Anne of Green Gables. In addition to the release of the prequel, Davidar said another highlight is expected to be the launch of the new Extraordinary Canadians biography series which will be guest edited by John Ralston Saul. The series will debut in March.
Looking at prospects for 2008 in general, Davidar noted that “we have entered an era of significantly lower prices, with new U.S. hardcovers priced around [C]$27, fully [C]$ less than they were two years ago. However, we’ll hope to make up in volume what we have lost in terms of price.”