Better than expected results at Dover Publications "fuels our desire to aggressively expand Dover, a business that is becoming an increasingly important part of Courier," company chairman James Conway III said, commenting on third-quarter results ended June 30, 2001. Sales at Dover in the quarter were $8 million and the publisher had pretax earnings of $377,000, while revenues for the first nine months of the year were $23.3 million with earnings of $650,000.

Conway attributed part of Dover's success to the March 8 launch of the company's Web site. Dover has sold books to more than 10,000 customers since the debut of the site and the average Web order is 35% larger than those placed through Dover's mail-order catalogues. "This pattern has significant implications for the value of Dover's huge backlist," Conway said.

As part of its plan to integrate Dover into its operations, all of the publisher's new titles are being digitized, which makes it easier to move the manufacturing of more titles to Courier-owned plants, Conway noted. Dover's bottom line has also been helped by leveraging paper and transportation costs with those of its parent company.

Dover's sales helped to offset an 8% decline in Courier's book manufacturing segment, where sales fell to $42.8 million. Sales to the religious market were down 10% in the quarter, but were still up 3% for the year to date. Sales of elhi texts were up 3% in the quarter, but sales to the specialty market were "well below" last year's levels, due to soft demand for books on such topics as investing, business and computer applications. According to Conway, publishers continue to aggressively promote frontlist titles, but reprints of backlists books have been held down in order to reduce inventory. Conway said he was hopeful that book demand will pick up by the fall.

Donnelley Down

R.R. Donnelley was another printer that reported soft sales in the second quarter. The company said that for the period ended June 30, 2001, sales in its book sector were down 4.3% to $126.6 million.