Gains in both backlist and frontlist helped boost sales in Scholastic's trade segment 62% for the third quarter ended February 28, to $41.3 million. Among the new titles that performed well in the quarter were The Dark Hills Divide, Dragon Rider and the first title in its new graphic novel line, Out from Boneville.
The trade division was the best performer in Scholastic's book publishing and distribution segment, which had flat revenue of $272 million. Within the group, sales at book fairs rose 8% in the quarter, to $71.7 million, while sales at book clubs slipped to $110 million from $111 million. The company said it expects book club sales to be flat for the year, though profits are projected to increase, due in part to price increases. The planned downsizing of its continuities business resulted in a 28% decline in sales, to $49.3 million.
For the entire company, total revenue rose 2%, to $480.8 million, and the net loss was cut to $700,000 from $6 million. Improved cost controls were cited as the main factor in improving margins, and CFO Mary Winston acknowledged that there was "a modest headcount reduction" in the quarter.
Among Scholastic's other segments, the educational publishing group had the best quarter, with sales ahead 9%, to $79.3 million led by the success of its Read 180 program. International sales increased 4%, to $92 million, helped by foreign-exchange rates. Sales in the media/licensing/advertising segment fell 6%, to $37.2 million, due mainly to the release in last year's third quarter of Clifford's Really Big Movie.