Harlequin is making money where other segments of parent Torstar are not. (Enough that ABC Nightline came and taped a piece at the Harlequin headquarters). Revenue was up 2.2% with operating profit up 11.2%. There were declines in the direct sales in North America but the retail sales in North America and Overseas offset that.
The fourth quarter, which was down for nearly every retailer in 2008, was a huge boon for Harlequin who saw a revenue increase of 19%. It appears that Harlequin is gaining from its digital initiatives, increasing the sales of both print and digital books via the internet. Harlequin is, in my opinion, the leading publishing when it comes to digital initiatives.
Torstar president Robert Prichard praised Harlequin’s performance, noting 2008 was “the third year in a row of business growth for Harlequin which is making important gains in both print and digital products.” In the North America retail segment, sales were up in both series and single title formats, while the bottomline benefitted from a decline in returns. The direct-to-consumer segment suffered from a declining customer base which was somewhat offset by improved payment rates and more effective mailings. The company also saw higher sales of print and digital books over the Internet. A highlight in the Overseas market was Harlequin’s deal with the Japanese SoftBank Corp. to distribute digital manga content on cell phones and Internet distribution sites. Sales from this operation countered a drop in sales of traditional books.