Sunday, February 11, 2018

Publishers Lunch

Today's Meal

News Corp. reported fiscal second quarter results through December 31, with revenues at HarperCollins nudging up by $3 million to 469 million -- with all of the gain and then some coming from foreign exchange, which added $8 million in the quarter. EBITDA of $80 million was up $5 million from a year ago, with foreign exchange adding $1 million.

Along with the currency boost, the company cited "higher backlist sales at the children's books" as a contributing factor, calling out Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks and David Walliams' Bad Dad as their top frontlist titles. The performance is in line with a typical holiday quarter since the acquisition of Harlequin, comparable to last year as well as the same period three years ago (when they had sales of $469 million and EBITDA of $77 million).

Digital sales increased 2 percent over the previous year, "driven by the growth in downloadable audiobook sales," and comprised 16 percent of consumer revenues for the quarter.

Sales at parent company News Corp. were $2.18 billion, up from $2.12 billion a year ago. Net loss for the quarter was ($66) million, as compared to ($219) million in the prior year, but the improvement was offset by a charge of $174 million related to the new tax bill.

Courtney Littler has been promoted to editor at Castle Point Books.

Cengage has
hired Gary Fortier as chief people officer. Most recently he was CEO for Vision Government Solutions.

Denise George has joined Thomas Nelson as vice president of marketing for the W Publishing Group. She was previously vice president of content and customer development at Creative Trust.

Sanford J. Greenburger Associates is now scouting fiction for C. H. Beck in Germany.

There will be a memorial service for Toby Eady on Monday, April 9 at 4 pm the Royal Over-Seas League in St. James's, London. Visitors are asked to confirm their attendance by emailing

Similarly, Barnes & Noble asks that people wishing to attend the celebration of Bob Wietrak's life please RSVP to so that they can accommodate seating.

Macmillan ceo John Sargent tells the Bookseller that when Holt publisher Steve Rubin originally signed a book contract with Michael Wolff, it was for a book about Fox News, not Donald Trump. On the issue of whether the publisher erred in not anticipating how explosive demand for FIRE AND FURY would be, Sargent says, "We always thought there was the potential for it to be big: we had orders for 60,000 copies, and had decided on a very aggressive print run, 150,000 books." He does say that in retrospect, "We would have found ways to lock down the PDF more tightly, and done more to prevent piracy. It's not something we're used to, WikiLeaks forcing out a book!" (It was, however, the PDF of the UK edition from Little Brown UK that was posted online, not Macmillan's file.)

Sargent does have a caution, directed at those who work in publishing: "Publishers should be careful: we should publish across the spectrum for everybody, not just from the point of view of our industry’s employee base. What’s important is the conversation: The right answer is not to silence, but to encourage conversation in a well-meaning way, especially for younger people. At a time when the US is so ideologically split, we should be publishing books for the country as a whole."
Asked about Amazon, he remarks: "I have huge respect for the company and those who work there: they’re extremely creative, hard-working, ambitious [people]. Amazon has done a lot for the business, and the problems it poses are due to its success. These are the same problems we've always had, with one player being very powerful. Our job with Amazon is to sell a lot of books, and at the same time, make sure that the whole ecosystem of publishing remains stable and functions at the highest level. We have to resolve conflicts as best we can."

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