Sales, Earnings Fall at Simon &Schuster
Jim Milliot and John F. Baker -- 2/19/01

Despite a 2.4% decline in revenues to $596 million in 2000, Simon & Schuster president Jack Romanos told PW he was "pleased with the year," including the company's bottom-line performance, where EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) fell to $71.3 million from $74 million in 1999. EBITDA margin was 12% in 1999 and 2000. Romanos said he believes S&S "published more successfully" in 2000 than in 1999, observing that the company had 72 adult bestsellers in 2000 compared to 59 in the prior year.

Romanos attributed the declines to a weak first half of the year and a "significant" decline in distribution fees due to the loss of such former S&S sister companies as Prentice Hall Press, Jossey-Bass and Macmillan Library Reference. Romanos added that S&S "wasn't untouched" by the general softness shown in the trade book market.

Romanos said he was "most encouraged" by the operational upgrades the company made in 2000 that should result in higher sales in 2001. During the year S&S reorganized its U.K. subsidiary, finished consolidating its sales force, brought in Bill Shinker as publisher of the Free Press and continued the process of uncoupling the company from the S&S educational and professional groups that were sold in late 1998. "I'm happy with the progress we made in a difficult year," Romanos said.

New Free Press Imprint
Also last week, S&S announced that it has formed a new nonfiction imprint. Simon & Schuster Source will become part of the house's Free Press, and S&S trade chief Carolyn Reidy said it will concentrate on titles in the areas of health, self-help, diet, personal motivation, sports, consumer and popular reference, and parenting.

Like the Free Press itself, Source will be under the direction of v-p and publisher William M. Shinker. Source will build upon the trade division's reference publishing efforts under Bill Rosen, who will serve as Source's director, Shinker said, acquiring books for both imprints. The first Source titles will appear this spring, including two books created under the imprimatur of organizations, which Shinker said would be a significant element at Source. They are Ask a Nurse: From Home Remediesto Hospital Care by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.

Source also announced it had signed a three-book contract with bestselling inspirational author Dr. James Van Praagh, author of Talking to Heaven and other books published by NAL. Senior editor Fred Hills signed the world rights deal, including first serial and audio, with Van Praagh's agent, Suzanne Gluck at ICM. Van Praagh's first new book, to be published in November to coincide with a CBS-TV miniseries on Talking to Heaven, will be Heaven on Earth: Making the Psychic Connection.