Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 3

David beat Goliath! 

At least in the 4th quarter of 2021. While Amazon’s online sales fell 1% in Q4 of 2021, brick-and-mortar bookstores saw an increase of over 43%. Bookstores finished the year up 28% over 2020—a year when all of the retail sector was up only 19.3%. Though that jump still left bookstores short of pre-pandemic 2019 by 1%.

2021 Corporate Reports 

The 2021 year-end results are rolling in from the Big 5 (or 4, or 3, or whatever it is this week).  

Simon & Schuster continues to increase its resale value – even though they are technically in escrow to Penguin Random House (pending a legal contest from the DoJ). S&S ended 2021 up 10% in sales and a whopping 52% increase in operating income.  

Hachette's parent company, Lagardere, reported a 9.4% revenue increase, with earnings up a phenomenal 42.7%.  Hachette’s US division was up 3.7% for the year. The company is, however, forecasting a flat 2022, as it...

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Do You Want to Grab a Coffee?

Have you ever wanted to have coffee with a literary agent? If you could just get some time around the table with one, you could get all your questions answered, right? 

As literary agents, we get this request a lot. Our hope is to provide you with answers so that you avoid those pitfalls and blind spots that so many amateur writers make. It’s amazing what a short conversation can do. 

And as much as we love coffee and talking about books and publishing, there isn’t enough time in the day to handle all these requests. 

That’s why we want you to join us for our FREE author training: Thursday, Feb 24, at 1 pm PT/3 pm CT"The Secret Path to Getting Published."

This training is for:

  • Authors who dream of being traditionally published
  • Authors who want a substantial publishing deal
  • Authors who are seeking representation from a literary agent
  • Authors who keep getting rejected and don’t know what they are doing wrong
  • Authors...
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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 2

Industry analysts are expecting a leaner 2022 for book sales, as the publishing industry is expected to cool…but only because 2020 and 2021 were so good!  The basis for that prognostication is mostly because it’s hard to say with a straight face that 2022 could possibly follow those two older siblings with similar results. Also, with the supply chain still stressed and inflation driving up the cost of manufacturing—and hence the price being charged to the reader/consumer, a dip seems inevitable.

Another leading indicator—December 2021 holiday sales—slipped 1.8% lower than 2020’s numbers.  That dip continued into January 2022, with the first full week of the new year coming in at 13.9% below the prior year’s results. The subsequent two weeks were down 3% and 2.6%, respectively.

2021: Another Big Year in [the] Books (pun intended)

For the first time in the 18-year history of NPD/BookScan, the publishing industry saw large sales...

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What Question Are You Asking Yourself?

If you’ve ever spent a Saturday watching or participating in a track and field meet, you’ve probably witnessed someone falling out of the blocks. The sprinter is crouched and ready, head down and waiting for the starting gun . . . And then, the moment arrives and they stumble and fall. 

It’s a tough thing to witness, even tougher to have experienced.

We’ve all been there, right? We're ready to go, the race is ahead of us . . . and we fall out of the gate.

This time of year, “New Year, New You” gets all the hype. Encouragement is abundant for 2022. And who can dismiss a fresh start, especially after the last couple of years? Like the sprinter, maybe you were ready to go, the race ahead of you . . . and then you crashed. 

If that’s you, today is about helping you up after you've broken the promises you made to yourself about your writing goals, your publishing plans, or any other resolutions you’ve made around...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 1

Before you drag that dried-out, dead fire hazard to the curb, let’s drink some lukewarm eggnog to celebrate a successful Christmas season of bookselling with our December sales update.

Weekly Book Sales Slow…Then Sprint into the New Year

After months of torrid sales reports for print books, we did see some intermittent slowing from week-to-week as we moved into the fall – as prognosticated by the Market Update, because the comparable prior year numbers from fall of 2020 had cast off any remnant of the early-year COVID slow down and were turbo-charged by the quadrennial fuel of a presidential election cycle. So, we continued to see some fits and starts in the November sales figures.

Thanksgiving week saw print sales up 9.7% over the prior year’s Black Friday week, with Barnes & Noble reporting double-digit sales increases for that all-important shopping weekend— strained supply chain and all. The following week stalled, reporting an essentially flat...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 2, Issue 12

In Pursuit of Simon & Schuster’s Big Numbers 

Last month, the Market Update reported in-depth on the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop the acquisition of Simon & Schuster by industry behemoth Penguin Random House – a move the DoJ claimed would leave one entity in control of two-thirds of the market for acquiring new books. The next highest bidder for the Viacom subsidiary opined on the oversized PRH offer for S&S, saying there was “clearly no market logic to a bid that size – only anti-market logic.”

Well, he may have spoken too soon. S&S is having a huge year, which just might end up justifying that oversized bid—or at least making a colorable argument. While the regulators have spent months mulling over the legality of the proposed deal, CEO Jonathan Karp and his team at S&S have been doing their darndest to grow into that massive valuation. Q3 of 2021 was up 15% in sales and a whopping 66% in profits from...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 2, Issue 11 -November 4, 2021

The United States v. Penguin Random House  

Well, at the last minute, the Department of Justice decided to make a little noise in the PRH/S&S merger that we’ve been talking/worried about. In recent issues, we reported that PRH CEO Markus Dohle assured literary agents on a video conference that after the merger the imprints of the “Big Two Become Huge One” publisher would continue to bid against one another for publishing rights—something that would be an industry-first for co-owned publishing imprints. But the DoJ doesn’t believe them. In the suit, the DoJ called that a “proposal that defies economic sense, can be evaded or violated without detection, and is unenforceable.” The DoJ scoffed, pointing out that, “in short, after securing nearly half the market for publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books, PRH asks this court to trust that PRH will not use its market power to maximize profits for the benefit of...

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Publishing Industry Market; Vol. 2, Issue 10

The Broken Links in the Supply Chain

Have you driven by any new car dealerships lately? Look closely. That lot full of new cars is probably only one row deep. Dealerships have resorted to parking the cars from the service department out front, just to create the illusion that they have a full lot! Something about a global shortage of microchips, along with numerous logistical challenges stemming from the pandemic.

Well, the book business is in the same boat…and that boat is probably moored a hundred ships deep off the California coast (we can literally see them out the window at Y&Y world HQ in Orange County, CA).

The supply chain problems in the publishing industry are a perfect storm of the pandemic-related labor shortage, shipping and transportation problems, and in recent years the bankruptcy and consolidation of US-based printing companies. Plus, with the stratospheric growth of online shopping, many mills switched their manufacturing from paper to cardboard (all...

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Better With Than Without - Don’t Go It Alone

Writing is hard.

You wouldn’t be reading this email right now if you didn’t feel the tension and resistance that goes along with trying to write and publish your books and ideas. Too often, we see authors on social media and wonder, “Why not me?”

The truth is: when you see a book, you’re really seeing more than the author’s work. You’re seeing the work of a village - because that's what it takes. In the publishing process, dozens of people will help bring a book to market.

It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. You’re measuring yourself not against an author or a book, but a team of people. That’s why we want you to stop going it alone.

When we created Author Coaching University, we wanted to help writers go from idea to bookshelf. Imagine having a mentor to walk you step-by-step to getting published? What if you had an expert guide from within the publishing industry to help you navigate your journey?


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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 2, Issue 9

Big Numbers for the Big 5

With the first 6 months of 2021 in the books, we have seen an industry-wide increase in same-period sales up 18.1% over 2020. Some of that jump can be attributable to the adversely COVID-impacted March and April 2020, but if you’ve been hanging with us for the past year and a half, you know that by May 2020 and on through the rest of that year, we were on a hot streak. So, these are some terrific numbers to report, with Publishers Marketplace conjecturing that we may have just seen the best 6- and 12-month periods ever!

The Big 5:

Penguin Random House:  Up 10.8% worldwide; 22% ($1.3 billion) in the U.S.
Lagardere/Hachette:  Up 16.4% worldwide; 14.8% in the U.S.
HarperCollins:  Up 20%
Simon & Schuster:  Up 9.2% (reporting separately from PRH pending merger approval)
Macmillan/Holtzbrinck:  (privately held, but presumably performed similarly well)

More Mergers

Hachette Book Group knows what to expect, and it’s expecting to...

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