Simon & Schuster’s parent company CBS reported first quarter earnings on Thursday afternoon, with the publisher recording sales of $161 million, up $16 million (or 11 percent) over the same period last year. Helped by the acquisition in the previous quarter of Adams Media, the company saw broad sales gains, with ceo Carolyn Reidy telling us, “every single one of our divisions was up” in the quarter, with the double digit gains in digital audio — up 35 percent — adult publishing (which includes Adams), and international. CBS said “the increase was led by growth in print book sales and digital audio sales.” Operating income of $14 million was up $1 million, “as the increase in revenues was offset by higher production and selling costs.”
In the investor call, CBS ceo Leslie Moonves noted, “Premium content is also the driving force behind our great results in publishing, where Simon & Schuster turned in a terrific quarter primarily driven by strong print sales, and there’s more to come including new titles from big names like Kevin Hart, Joy Mangano, Tucker Carlson, John Kerry and the incomparable Stephen King.”
Digital products comprised 25.4 percent of sales for the quarter, down from approximately 28 percent a year ago, as ebook sales continued to ebb and digital audio continued to grow. Reidy said they were “projecting [digital sales for] the year to be basically relatively flat to last year.”
Looking ahead, S&S has a robust line-up of books turned into movies that release this fall, including two from Stephen King — The Dark Tower movie is set for August and It releases in September. Reidy said the recent release of a “trailer alone made IT a bestseller.” Other film adaptations releasing in the fall include The Glass Castle, from Jeannette Walls’ book; Horse Soldiers from Doug Stanton’s book (the movie is set for January); and a Vince Flynn adaptation, American Assassin. In the case of the latter, the film was developed by CBS “originally because of our enthusiasm” and Atria staff advised throughout the production process.
The fall season also will see S&S imprints publish books for the first time by Tom Perrotta (Mrs Fletcher), Nelson DeMille (The Cuban Affair), and Jennifer Egan (Manhattan Beach).
Hillary Clinton’s next book remains set for September, and “she’s very committed both to this book and to doing the publicity for it,” with more details to come after the manuscript is complete.