Bad Start for HarperCollins

First-quarter sales at HarperCollins for the period ended September 30 fell 11.5%, to $330 million, and operating income plunged 52.8%, to $36 million. CEO Jane Friedman attributed the declines to a “terrible” quarter in the U.K. and a significant drop in sales in the children’s segment in the U.S. Despite the bad beginning, Friedman remained optimistic about the rest of the year, noting that sales in October were up.

Sales Up, Earnings Off at Courier

Total revenue at Courier Corp. rose 9% in the fiscal year ended Sept. 29, to $294.5 million, although net income fell 9%, to $25.7 million, due mainly to a tax benefit earned in fiscal 2006. Sales in the manufacturing segment increased 5%, to $231.5 million, while publishing sales rose 27%, to $72.9 million. The gain in the publishing segment was attributed in part to a full-year inclusion of results from Creative Homeowner, which the company acquired in fiscal 2006. Sales at Creative, however, were hurt by the softening housing market and fell 6% in the last quarter.

In Courier’s other publishing operations, sales at Dover were off slightly in the year, but rose by more than 15% at REA.

Book Sales Up At Lagardère

Book revenue at Largardère Publishing rose 7.1% in the nine months ended September 30, to 1.54 billion euros ($2.2 billion), boosted by the 2006 purchase of the Time Warner Book Group, which became part of the company April 1, 2006, and added 81 million euros from this year’s first quarter. Excluding TWBG (now Hachette Book Group USA), sales were up 3.0%. Lagardère said revenues in the U.S. rose “at a lively pace.”

Judge Dismisses Parker Suit

A New York judge has dismissed copyright infringement complaints filed against Penguin. Stuart Silverstein charged that Penguin’s book Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems took poems from a collection compiled by Silverstein three years earlier without giving him credit. Penguin never denied using Silverstein’s book as a source, but claimed that Silverstein’s Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker did not qualify for copyright protection since it was merely a compilation of existing material—a position supported by the judge.

Follett’s Big... Everywhere

Writers House is reporting very strong deal figures for marquee client Ken Follett, whose proposal for The Century, a forthcoming three-book series, has drawn some $50 million through deals closed in the U.S. and abroad. Thus far the work has been bought by houses in Spain, Italy, England and France, with Follett’s longtime U.S. publisher, Dutton, set to release it in the States. Writers House expects to up that figure, as it continues to shop the proposal in “the next tier of target territories.”

Hay Wins Giller

Elizabeth Hay was named the winner of the Giller Prize, Canadian’s most prestigious fiction award. Her novel, Late Nights on Air, is published in Canada by McClelland & Steward, and will be published in the U.S. next April by Counterpoint.

Maria Campbell Signs Ten Have

Maria B. Campbell Associates has been named U.S. scout for the Amsterdam-based house, Ten Have. The publisher is known for its spirituality and religion titles and releases roughly 80 books annually, 50% of them in translation. The hiring of Campbell points to the publisher’s goal of building a stronger presence in the U.S. market.

Lee Mistrial Declared

The judge overseeing the trial of comics retailer Gordon Lee on charges of distributing materials harmful to minors declared a mistrial after prosecutors mentioned Lee’s previous conviction for distributing obscene material after they had been told not to. A new trial is likely some time in 2008.

S&S Ups Green Efforts

Simon & Schuster plans to increase the level of recycled fiber in its paper from 10% to 25% by 2012, a move that it estimates will save 483,000 trees annually.