We are definitely seeing a slowing in several sectors of the publishing industry. The weekly numbers for May 2022 are reported later in the Update.

Wall Street Watch

The numbers for the first quarter of 2022 are coming in from Wall Street.  The results are mixed.  

We have no doubt seen a slowdown from the red-hot pandemic-fueled periods of 2020 and 2021.  But, while sales numbers for 2022 are fairly decent overall, some in the industry are clearly feeling the pinch on the profit line thanks to a steady dose of higher costs, supply chain delays, and inflation.  

For instance, HarperCollins reported a 5% increase in sales in the first 3 months of this year but settled with a 16% decrease in earnings compared to the same period last year. Most of the revenue increase can be attributed to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquisition, but that wasn’t nearly enough to save the bottom line.

Hachette parent Lagardere was similarly helped by acquiring Workman last fall, ending 8.8% above last year.  The French company also got a little help from more favorable (for them) exchange rates. They’d have been nearly flat without those two factors.

“Defying Gravity”

Then there is the inexplicable, limbo-floating Simon & Schuster.  While waiting for Godot (aka, the U.S. Justice Department), S&S continues on a tear.  CEO Jonathan Karp credited #BookTok (see last month’s Market Update) as a factor in their continued double-digit results – as they finished Q1 2022 up 17% in revenue and up a mind-boggling 85% in operating income.  But even Karp, the book whisperer, acknowledged that supply chain and printing press pressures have caused S&S to move a number of titles from Q3 to Q4.

Weekly Numbers—May 2022

The sky isn’t falling, but it is starting to drizzle a little.  After 2 years of record sales in 2020 and 2021, and a positive Q1 2022, we have clearly turned a corner.  Our unit sales numbers have been down for 9 out of the last 11 weeks. 

Here are the weekly results for May:

          Week ended April 30, 2022:  Down 6.1%

          Week ended May  7, 2022:   Down 6.9%

          Week ended May 14, 2022:  Down 6.9%

          Week ended May 21, 2022:  Down 6.4%

          Week ended May 28, 2022:  Down 9.3%

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