A collapse in both its domestic and foreign markets resulted in a plunge in sales at Intervisual Books in the third quarter ended September 30, to $3.6 million from $8.7 million in the comparable period in 1997. The company reported a net loss in the quarter of $293,821, compared to net income of $565,891.

Intervisual president Norm Sheinman said the company was "devastated" by the drop in sales in the quarter. He noted that while the publisher had expected a difficult period due to the Asian financial crisis and the strong U.S. dollar, "there is no precedent in our 23-year history that could have prepared us for the impact on sales and profits we have experienced during the last six months." For the first nine months of the year, sales at Intervisual fell 41% to $8.3 million, and the company had a net loss of $1.1 million, compared to a loss of $262,424 in the first nine months of 1997.

Intervisual reported that consolidation among U.S. publishers resulted in an American market sales drop of 45% in the year-to-date period, while the strong dollar caused a "substantial" decline in sales to Europe. Intervisual's deepest problems, however, are in the Asian market, where sales through September were down 80%, to $391,000.

Sheinman said that Intervisual has taken a number of steps to help return the company to profitability. Among those moves was the appointment of Lynette Ruschak as Intervisual's new creative director. In addition, the company's top executives voluntarily took a 10% cut in salary. Intervisual has also instituted a salary and hiring freeze, and personnel cuts are expected to reduce staff by 20% by the end of 1998. Intervisual anticipates that its cost reduction moves will reduce overhead by as much as $500,000 in 1999.

Sheinman cited a number of positive signs on the sales side, including the projection that its self-publishing program will gross sales of $3.2 million this year, compared to $1.4 million in 1997. The company also recorded sales from its newly reactivated promotional sales division, and further growth is expected in 1999. The company is also benefiting from lower manufacturing costs that will enable Intervisual to offer selective incentive programs to publishers.