Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Thursday Midday Links: Earning Statements Time for Publishers

Cover Contest 2009Cover Cafe ballot for the best and the worst covers of 2009 is up and ready for your votes.


RWA is going to Disney! Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort will be hosting the 2010 RWA Conference due to the flooding in Nashville. The rooms are super reasonable: $149 for two AND free in room high speed internet access (bring your own wi fi router folks). That’s a $10-$15 feature. It almost makes me want to go this year. Almost but not quite.


Barnes and Noble is now offering Free Express Shipping (books shipped in 1-3 days) for $25 a year. It competes with the Amazon Prime membership for which you pay $75 per year, but from Amazon you can order everything from groceries to furniture under and have those items shipped for free under a Prime membership. Still, it’s nice to have that choice.


There are four earning statements for the first quarter of calendar year 2010.

Harlequin: Harlequin profits are up (10%) even though revenue from sales was down. Part of this is due to the fluctuating value of the Canadian dollar.   Direct to consumer ebook sales grew but that growth was tempered by a decline in the retail and overseas sales meaning print book sales in bookstores and other venues isn’t bringing in as much money.

In Q1 revenue from digital sales worldwide was $6.9 million and represented 6.1% of total revenue. This represents an increase of 61% from Q1 of last year.

Author Maya Reynolds has a great summary of the Harlequin Q1 earnings.

HarperCollins: HC showed operating income growth due to higher sales in the Children’s and General Books division (which must be the reason that they are trying to buy more YA).   There was a 13.5% increase in sales and operating income was $4 million to the good versus the $8 million loss of the previous year.   HC had 47 books on the NYT list including four that reached the number 1 spot.   The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith and a reprint of a formerly out of print Evanovich title were two books helping HC have a good quarter.

Earnings statement (PDF) and this press release (which cites a different number of titles hitting the NYT bestseller list.   weird)

Simon & Schuster: While digital sales are really strong, growing to $12 million from less than $4 million from the previous quarter, Simon & Schuster suffered a decline of sales of 6%.

Digital sales more than tripled in the first quarter and represent a growing share of our overall Publishing revenues.

Publishing revenue decreased $10 million because of “the continued softness in the base retail market.”    This soft market doesn’t explain the increase of sales for other publishers, particularly Penguin as you will see below.   The folks at CBS, parent corporation of S&S, said that Q1 was traditionally their weakest quarter.

Earnings Call Transcript (pages 3 & 4 mainly discuss the publishing. the rest is about tv shows and Outdoor Radio?)

Penguin: It’s battle with Amazon won’t show up until Q2 and it may not affect Penguin one bit.   Pearson, the parent company of Penguin, saw an increase of 7% in the first quarter.   Pearson executives, like S&S, see Q1 as their weakest and expect the increase of revenues to continue and possibly grow in the upcoming quarters.   There were no specific numbers for Penguin only a mention that it “has made a good start to the year, particularly in the US< the UK, and at Dorling Kindersely.”

Trading Markets summary.


NY Times says that the stigma of self publishing has abated and been replaced with the label of “small and crafty.”

And self-published books are not just winning in terms of numbers but also making up ground in cachet. As has happened with other media in this heyday of user-generated content, last century's logic has been turned on its head: small and crafty can beat big and branded. As  IndieReader, an online source for self-published books, puts it, "Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a superstore."

This is the Etsy like feel of publishing.   I love Etsy and there is no question that there is a ton of horrific crap on Etsy but there is also some gorgeous and creative stuff on Etsy.   The key, always, is finding the great stuff and pushing aside the dross.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


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  2. Ridley
    May 06, 2010 @ 13:07:31

    Eh, I’m not sure the stigma’s abated much. Any time a self-pubber shows up on the Amazon romance forums, for example, the shrieking GTFOs are loud and clear.

    From those annoying, nearly illiterate posts, I’ve drawn a number of unflattering opinions of the self-published, fair or not.

    Maybe they need a self-pub Etsy site, where the adventurous might come to them, but their attempts at “marketing” that I’ve seen get a very hostile reaction.

  3. jody
    May 06, 2010 @ 13:42:54

    @ Ridley
    Any time a self-pubber shows up on the Amazon romance forums, for example, the shrieking GTFOs are loud and clear.

    Most authors incur e-shouts of GTFO on Amazon forums (fora?) not because they participate but because they push their books with no regard for the discussion already underway, as in “You’ll LUUURRRVVEE my contemporary Christian mystery” on a forum dedicated to historical romance. Annoying? Yes. It’s like butting into a quiet conversation screaming “ME, ME, ME!”

    Traditionally pubbed authors are just as guilty as the self-pubbed.

    Many authors are welcome contributors because they participate first and promote their own books second, or not at all. The very nicest authors ask if it’s OK to tout their books. On any board I’ve ever been on, it’s been OK.

    Good manners are always appreciated.

  4. jody
    May 06, 2010 @ 13:52:07

    Geez. That comment sounds really patronizing.

    I apologize.

    What I meant to get across is that while there are some royal Class-A asshats on Amazon forums (fora?), most people are just as courteous as they are treated. Not all, but most.

  5. DS
    May 06, 2010 @ 14:00:23

    @Ridley: There is a thread on the Kindle forums for self published authors. I’ve picked up a number of books there and been quite pleased with most of them. (Of course I download a sample first if it’s over a couple of dollars.)

    I think Jody might be right. There are times and places.

  6. Ridley
    May 06, 2010 @ 14:10:27

    I am sure all self-published stuff isn’t garbage, but so long as the above mentioned dope hawking her paranormal m/m in the christian historicals thread is the most common interaction readers have with self-pubbers, I don’t see the stigma going *poof* anytime soon.

  7. Janet P.
    May 06, 2010 @ 16:28:25

    Oh Oh!!!
    Is it me or is the Worst Cover at Cover Cafe a runaway winner this year? In fact, it is my humble opinion that one of the options is possibly the worst cover of the DECADE! LOL

    It’ll be interesting to see if I’m right!

  8. John
    May 06, 2010 @ 17:31:59

    I was surprised to find Snyder’s Sea Glass among the fantastical ones…I find it kind of pretty, if a bit down-marketed for adult readers.

    First Come Twins is kinda funny. I LOLed at the thought of such drama with such a…classic title.

    OMG PREGNESIA! Sorry, I had a Smart Bitches flashback…The worst covers section is a hoot. How some of these are remotely considered to be cover worthy at all is beyond me. :) I, however, do not think the contest is a runaway…there are many bad covers. Mr. Hyde’s Assets amuses me…as does Werewolf Sanctuary (probably the worst paranormal cover), Said the Spider to the Fly (this is romance), New Blood, and Add a Little Mistletoe (She has quite the back growth).

  9. DS
    May 06, 2010 @ 17:46:54

    @Janet P.: I just finished voting. I think that either I am terribly out of sync with romance novel covers this year or a great of many of them aren’t particularly compelling.

    As for the Worst, I admit it wasn’t quite as clear to me– I was torn between two worthy contenders.

  10. Kim in Hawaii
    May 06, 2010 @ 17:54:47

    Jane wrote about RWA at Disney, “It almost makes me want to go this year. Almost but not quite.”

    Surely the summer heat, high humidity, and foreign tourists sound appealing. Perhaps Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck could perform cabaret at the hotel bar.

    Seriously, I commend RWA for quickly responding to the situation and providing a fabulous alternative. The Dolphin and Swan Hotel is gorgeous and spacious. Disney offers free bus and boat transportation around the Disney Kingdom, including Downtown Disney and Lake Buena Vista. We’ll miss you!

  11. Joanne
    May 06, 2010 @ 19:46:25

    I’m not sure the the worst titles (IMO) would be the same as worst covers. Pregwhatever was an awful title but the cover pic was typical series romance.

    I always loved the step-back covers on historical romances. But- did the inside always look like the models where getting some shots in for their porn jobs later in the week or is that just my age showing?

  12. Mary Winter
    May 07, 2010 @ 03:03:24

    Considering that I once had a vacuum over-nighted to me for $3.99 from, I’m afraid B&N’s service can’t compare for me. I love buying anything from Amazon (except third party sellers) and knowing I’ll get it in two days. It’s well worth the price.

  13. sao
    May 07, 2010 @ 04:28:57

    I can’t believe the publisher can’t break out the costs of e-publishing. This is not a tough accounting issue. You have author and editing costs which are common to both formats. You have printing, shipping, and return costs which are only for hardcopies, you have e-formating costs for e-pubbed books.

    Even if their accounting system can’t break out the costs, someone with a spreadsheet can. And it’s not a hard project, unless the publisher’s accounting is such a mess that they have no idea what their costs and revenues are.

    This is not rocket science. Either they don’t know (in which case they are doing a horrendous job of financial management) or they don’t want anyone else to know (this would piss me off if I were a shareholder)

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