Wiley textbook sales drop but digital sales rise

Wiley textbook sales drop but digital sales rise

Academic publisher John Wiley & Sons has reported a slight decrease in revenue in both the fourth quarter 2016 and the whole fiscal year, as the business continues to move towards digital.

In the fourth quarter, revenues declined 1% to $434.3m (£305.8m). Within that, education textbooks sales dropped 23% and research book sales fell 8%, but those declines were offset by growth in journal subscriptions, up 1% and double-digit growth in the corporate learning business, up 35%.

EPS (earnings per share) for the quarter declined 6%.

For the fiscal year, revenues declined 2% on a constant currency basis to $1.7bn (£1.2bn) but were flat excluding both currency changes and the shift to time-based journal subscriptions (which had an impact of $37m/£26.1m).

The strongest businesses for Wiley during the year were Author-Funded Access, with sales up 21%, Online Test Preparation, up 27%, Online Program Management, up 18%, Corporate Learning, up 31%, and WileyPLUS Course Workflow, up 10%. However, sales in several print businesses - Education books, Professional Development Books and Research Books and References – all declined.

The company also shifted more of its business to digital over the financial year.  The percentage of revenues from digital products and services increased to 63% from 60% the year before, whilst revenues from print books declined to 23% from 25%.

Mark Allin, president and c.e.o., said the company’s fourth quarter results were “in line” with expectations.

“We continued to make good progress in our transition to a digital knowledge and learning company, with nearly two-thirds of our revenue now generated from digital products and services,” he said. “Our solutions businesses again delivered double-digit top line growth, notably online test preparation, corporate learning, and online program management, offsetting much of the market-driven revenue decline in traditional book publishing."

In 2017, John Wiley & Sons expects revenues to be flat.