Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 4, Issue 5


News and Corporate Information about Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Back on the Auction Block

One of the lone bright spots in the publishing industry, league-leading Simon & Schuster posted another banner quarter.  Q1 2023 saw sales increase 19% and operating income jump 18%. Regular readers of the Update will remember that these results are being compared to a “gravity-defying” 2022.  But, all the S&S success isn’t fazing corporate parent Paramount Global.  Paramount still insists that they want to off-load this “non-video” cash cow.  

If anyone is looking to invest a couple of billion dollars, seems like a solid opportunity to us.

Meanwhile, Penguin Random House—the former suitor whose advances were rebuffed by the Justice Department—was saved by the (former) prince. Over 4 million copies of Harry Windsor’s “SPARE” were credited for German parent Bertelsmann’s Q1 2023 sales increase of 5.6%.

One last item in the “good news” category, our brick-and-mortar bookstore friends posted a sales increase of 10.7% in February 2023 over the same period last year. January’s 16% jump combines with February to boost bookstore sales 14.3% year-to-date compared to the prior year. The ever-telling comparison to the entire retail sector, which saw increases of just 6% in February and 7% for the year, is a strong indicator of the leaps being made in the physical store segment.  

Now, the Bad News

Hachette Book Group USA saw an 11% drop in sales in Q1 of 2023, dragging down French parent Lagardère’s growth to just 3% worldwide. HBGUSA CEO Michael Pietsch blamed a strong Q1 in 2022 for the decrease, when Dolly Parton and James Patterson had strong releases.  Dolly, maybe—but, come on, is there a quarter when James Patterson DOESN’T have a book come out?!

Belt-tightening continues at HarperCollins, where the targeted cuts of 5% of its North American workforce took out the entire Harper Design imprint. We’ll have HC’s Q1 2023 numbers in the next Update.  Praying for better news there.

Amazon (nope, this is not going to be the first issue of the Update without Amazon news – maybe next month) reported flat sales in its all-important (at least to us at the Update) online retail business.  But cost-cutting companywide improved the bottom line, with total sales across the behemoth entity notching a 30% jump in operating income on a 9% increase in sales.

Weekly Numbers

Here are the weekly results for April: 

          Week ended April 8, 2023:  Up 4.7% [thanks to Easter]

          Week ended April 15, 2023:  Down 27% [thanks to Easter being later last year]

          Week ended April 22, 2023:  Down 3.4%

          Week ended April 29, 2023:  Down 2.7%

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