In detailing what she called the “most successful year in Simon & Schuster history,” company CEO Carolyn Reidy cited not only the publisher’s many bestsellers and award-winning titles for the record year, but highlighted a number of growth areas in her annual year-end letter to employees. .
The fastest growing division at S&S in 2018 was its audiobook division. Sales there were helped by Bob Woodward’s Fear, which Reidy said was the fastest-selling audiobook in S&S history. The company also increased its audio title count in the year and has begun producing original content. Reidy noted she is also looking for more audio sales gains next year. ”With even more audio retailers coming on board, and the further proliferation of smart speakers and other listening devices, audio will remain a growth engine for us,” she predicted.
Backlist was another important sales driver for S&S. Reidy said that backlist sales now "comprise a higher portion of our revenue than at any time in memory.” She went on that, "while readers wanting the tried and true is an industry-wide phenomenon, our concerted effort during the last few years to acquire books with the potential for long-term backlist sales has yielded dividends.”
In recent years S&S has put more and more resources into its distribution business, and Reidy said while distribution is already an important driver of S&S’s overall business, she expects distribution to be an even more important part of its business going forward. “Our long-term strategic plan to expand our distribution business is in full swing, and with the opening in January of our new warehouse facility in Milan, Tenn., we are entering a new and exciting phase in this area of our business,” she said. "With our new facility on board, we are positioned to establish Simon & Schuster as a clear leader in this field."
A corporate-wide initiative that S&S completed in December that Reidy believes will help S&S grow in the future was simultaneously relaunching its domestic, international, and business-to-business websites. Among the goals of the relaunch, Reidy said, was to improve the user experience, “especially for the increasing numbers who arrive via mobile devices; and to help readers to find more quickly the information they need."
The relaunch,Reidy continued, and S&S's other direct-to-consumer efforts "reflect our commitment and ability to build and maintain closer relationships with all manner of readers and their communities."