Simon & Schuster president and c.e.o. Carolyn Reidy has discussed the “phenomenal” sales of Bob Woodward’s Fear, the fastest selling audiobook in the publisher’s history, whilst acknowledging the booming backlist sales and the UK big-hitters, in a staff newsletter heralding a "magnificent" 2018.
In her end of year newsletter to staff, Reidy described how the company had “once again performed magnificently”, paying special tribute to longtime S&S author Woodward’s Donald Trump expose Fear, exploring the US President’s decision-making around major foreign and domestic policies. The "phenomenal sales" of the book built on "an international publishing event and a textbook example of how our entire organisation, worldwide, can work as one to coordinate a picture-perfect publication launch, and then follow through to meet the extraordinary demand when sales skyrocket,” Reidy wrote in her ‘A Year End Message’ circulated to all staff across the world on Monday (17th December).
“It is especially gratifying that Simon & Schuster has been Bob Woodward’s one and only publisher, a relationship that stretches back to 1974 and the publication of All The President’s Men and a testament to the durability of our author relationships,” the newsletter reads. She also described how Fear, published as part of a global deal on 11th September, became the fastest-selling audiobook in the publisher’s history, as the company increases title content of the audio section, remaining “a growth engine” for S&S.
The publisher’s backlist sales also “continued to grow,” Reidy wrote, “and they comprise a higher portion of our revenue than at any time in memory” echoing industry insiders who told The Bookseller in June that non-fiction was seeing a boost in backlist titles. She wrote: “While readers wanting the tried and true is an industry-wide phenomenon, our concerted effort during the last few years to acquire books with the potential for long-term backlist sales has yielded dividends.”
On the UK front, the S&S chief singled out some notable big sellers such as John Nichol’s history title Spitfire: A Very British Love Story, Louise Candlish’s property thriller Our House and Sarah Vaughan’s courtroom novel Anatomy of a Scandal. Reidy also paid tribute to S&S' other international companies such as S&S Canada’s “thriving” publishing programme as well as the growth in India.
The company will focus on expanding its distribution effort, with a new warehouse in Tennessee opening in January, meaning it is “entering a new and exciting phase in this area of our business”. Reidy added: “Distribution is and will remain an important driver of our overall business, and with our new facility on board we are positioned to establish Simon & Schuster as a clear leader in this field.”
The revenue and operating income for S&S rose in the second quarter this year, helped by lower production costs, company accounts revealed in August. Publishing revenues grew $1m for the quarter ending 30th June 2018 to $207m in comparison the same period a year before, while operating income rose 7% to $31 million.