Donnelley Buying Banta

R.R. Donnelley has reached an agreement to buy Banta Corp. in a $1.3-billion deal. The acquisition, which is expected to close early next year, will create the country's largest book printer. In addition to book manufacturing, both companies offer fulfillment and other logistical services to publishers and are major players in such printing segments as catalogues, direct marketing and magazines.

Sales Up, Earnings Down at S&S

Earnings fell 10% in Simon & Schuster's third quarter, to $22.7 million, despite a 2% revenue gain, to $197.4 million. The decline was due to a $6-million one-time charge to cover doubtful accounts. S&S's publishing divisions all posted slight increases in the quarter: sales in the adult group were up 1%; children's and audio sales were both up 3.2%; and international sales were ahead 5.3%. CEO Jack Romanos was optimistic about prospects for the fourth quarter, citing a list of big books that includes Lisey's Story and the newest edition of Joy of Cooking.

For the first nine months of the year, revenue was up 5%, to $554.5 million, and earnings rose 2%, to $39.1 million.

Penguin, Pearson Ed Up

Through the first nine months of 2006, sales at Penguin were up 2%, and revenue in the educational segment was ahead 6%, Pearson reported. The company expects Penguin to finish the year with a sales gain of about 2%. Revenue at Pearson Education is projected to increase 3%—5% for the year.

Harlequin Results Fall

Harlequin's results continued to be hurt by the strength of the Canadian dollar. Revenue in the third quarter fell 13%, to C$118.8 million ($104 million), and operating profit tumbled 42%, to C$14.4 million. Excluding currency fluctuations, sales were down C$3.7 million in the quarter and earnings were off C$1.2 million. Sales were down in both the North American retail and direct-to-consumer segments, while sales to overseas markets were up. During the quarter, Harlequin cut about 40 jobs.

New Diamond Kids Unit

Diamond Book Distributors, the book trade affiliate of Diamond Comics Distributors, is launching Diamond Kids Group, a children's comics and books division, and has hired Scholastic editor-at-large Janna Morishima to direct the unit. Morishima, who will be based in New York, will start December 11.

More Big Read Awards

The National Endowment for the Arts is awarding funds to 72 organizations across the country to support Big Read programs in their communities. Through the initiative, grants totaling nearly $1.2 million will be offered to support monthlong reading programs to be launched anytime between January and June 2007. Grants have been awarded in cities that have 7,000 to four million people.