sons to last year’s strong sales
of Divergent. The decline in
sales of the young adult series
not only negatively affected
total revenue, but they were
also a factor in the 3% decline
in e-book sales in the quarter.
HC did benefit from the
robust performance of Chris
American Sniper, but parent company News Corp noted that
the stronger sales of nonfiction titles—which generally
do not sell as well in the
e-book format as fiction titles do—was
another factor in declining e-book sales.
E-books accounted for 22% of HC
consumer revenue in the quarter.
Digital sales were the bright spot for
S&S, with both e-book sales and sales of
digital audiobooks up in the quarter,
CEO Carolyn Reidy said, noting that
sales of digital audio were particularly
strong. The gain in digital sales was offset
by lower print sales in the period, result-
ing in a 5.2% decline in total revenue.
Lower costs, however, led to a 9% increase
in EBITDA. Digital sales accounted for
31% of total S&S revenue in the quarter.
Reidy attributed the variation in the
sales performance of print and digital
partially to product mix, noting that in
last year’s first quarter S&S was still doing
well, with print editions of titles tied to
the Duck Dynasty franchise.
The 6% increase in HMH’s sales
helped cut its losses in the period. The
company attributed its improved quarter
to strong backlist sales of books by J.R.R.
Tolkien and Lois Lowry, as well as the
continued success of both What if? and
the Newbery Medal–winning children’s
book The Crossover. In addition, HMH’s
culinary line had a strong start to the year
with the release of The Whole 30, The Real
Paleo Diet Cookbook, and Cake My Day.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY ■ MAY 11, 2015
First-quarter reports from three of the largest U.S. trade houses gave mixed messages about the state of
book publishing at the start of 2015.
Sales rose at HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt trade division, but
fell at Simon & Schuster, compared to the
first quarter of 2014. Revenue at HC,
however, fell 5% if sales from Harlequin—which HC bought last summer—
are excluded. The same pattern held true
for HC’s bottom line; there a 5.7%
increase in overall EBITDA would instead have been an 8% decline if earning
from Harlequin were not included. In any
case, HC’s results were hurt by compari-
($ in millions)
2014 2015 CHANGE
Sales $354.0 $402.0 13.5%
EBITDA 53.0 56.0 5.7%
Margin 15.8% 13.2% –
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade
Sales $32.0 $34.0 6.2%
Adjusted EBITDA ( 1. 3) ( 1. 1) –
Simon & Schuster
Sales $153.0 $145.0 - 5. 2
Operating profit 11.0 12.0 9.0%
Margin 7.2% 8.3% –
First-Quarter Results, 2014 v. 2015
SOURCE: PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Feature: War & Military
Issue: July 13 Deadline: June 8
Needed: Information on upcoming war and military
books, particularly those that discuss the war-
time roles of U. S. presidents and other leaders.
Publication dates: August 2015–January 2016.
New titles only; no reprints, please. Publishers that
have major titles on other war and military topics
are also encouraged to submit. Please email pitches
and links to artwork to features@publishersweek-
ly.com by no later than June 8, and put “Call for
info: War & Military” in the subject line.