Welcome back to our latest issue of the Yates & Yates Author Coaching monthly newsletter providing a brief update of the current state of the book publishing industry. As always, feel free to share with your friends, colleagues, or anyone else who might be interested.
THE 800 POUND GORILLA 1100-POUND PENGUIN
For nearly all of 2020, ViacomCBS has been shopping its publishing arm, the storied publishing stalwart Simon & Schuster, with two suitors emerging in recent months: NewsCorp’s HarperCollins and Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House (welcome to a world dominated by international media conglomerates). When the bidding stopped, Penguin Random House was on top at nearly $2.2 billion. Cue the antitrust allegations.
A combined PRHSS (no idea what they are going to call this behemoth) would be over $3 billion in annual US sales—nearly triple its nearest competitor, the aforementioned HC. PRH claims that its acquisition isn’t an antitrust problem, particularly when self-published titles are factored in. But, NewsCorp is already crying foul, as are authors groups and book retailers. The new entity would publish roughly one-third of all the new books released in this country in the average year. But as Franklin Foer, a staff writer for The Atlantic noted, a bigger behemoth accounts for roughly half of all book sales, so perhaps this mega-merger—and others that might follow it—are a natural defense mechanism against an even bigger antitrust threat to the publishing industry, Amazon.com.
Check back here for more updates once the U.S. Justice Department weighs in over the coming months.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. PRESIDENT
President Barack Obama’s birthday is on August 4th, but this year it might as well have been on November 17. That’s the day that his new Presidential memoir (or at least Part 1), A Promised Land, hit bookstore shelves, front porches and anywhere else books are sold. Our 45th President sold 887,000 copies of the book on its first day, and 1.7 million copies (all formats) in its first week. It is almost guaranteed to be the best-selling book of the year – even though it will only have less than 15% of the year to do it. And it had better since Penguin Random House has printed 3.4 million copies already.
A Promised Land helped the week ending November 21, 2020, to finish a whopping 26.3% higher than the same period in 2019, as all but one of November’s weeks reported sales up from the year prior. All in all, book sales in COVID-ridden 2020 continue at a shockingly healthy pace, with the holiday shopping season only just beginning.
In corporate finance news, the stellar bookselling performance of 2020 continues to reflect on financial statements industrywide. HarperCollins reported a 45% jump in profits for the third quarter of 2020 on increased sales of 13%. Hachette saw its Q3 sales grow 19.2% over last year thanks largely to Stephanie Meyer and Nicholas Sparks. Even orphaned Simon & Schuster filled parent ViacomCBS’s coffers with a 5.5% profit increase in Q3 on a 28.5% revenue jump.
IT’S ABOUT TIME
You sure would not have thought it would be news that a major publishing conglomerate would buy two printing facilities, but it was. For decades, publishers have by-and-large outsourced the last thing that most industry outsiders think they would: printing. On October 31, Penguin Random House parent, Bertelsmann, closed on two book printing factories that were being shuttered by shrinking printer Quad/Graphics. We wonder if more big U.S. publishers will do the same. Printing press time has been at a premium in the U.S. this year, with some publishers pushing book releases into next year due to a lack of printing capacity…Thanks, Obama!
So, you think you want to write a book…. If you are an aspiring author, and you don’t know where to start, well you can START HERE. We have a comprehensive ecourse for anyone who thinks they might want to write a book. Check out START HERE: A Beginner’s Guide to Publishing Your Book. And if you know an aspiring author, it’s a perfect virtual stocking-stuffer. No postage necessary.