The acquisition of Thomas Nelson and the formation of HarperCollins Christian as well as the growth in ebooks has helped drive revenue and profit at HarperCollins nearly to pre-recession levels.
In its full-year earnings report for fiscal 2013, News Corp reported that HarperCollins had $1.369 billion in revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA, a common measure of corporate profit) of $142 million. That’s up from $1.189 billion in sales and EBITDA of $86 million in fiscal 2012; and close to as much as the company made before the recession — in 2008, HarperCollins netted $1.388 billion in revenue and operating income of $160 million, according to Publishers Lunch.
Much of this year’s increase reportedly comes from the acquisition of Thomas Nelson, which was the largest Christian publisher in the U.S. prior to being absorbed by HarperCollins.
Ebooks are also a part of the HarperCollins growth story. Some 19% of its global revenues in the fourth quarter of 2013 were from ebook publishing, up from 16% during the same period a year ago. Further, the company has begun experimenting with producing ebook-only or ebook-first titles, which it says have been successful. From the earnings report:
HarperCollins is rapidly transitioning from print production to digital with leading e-book offerings. As of June 30, 2013, HarperCollins offered approximately 30,000 e-book titles, which accounted for approximately 19% of global revenues in the quarter (up from approximately 16% in the prior year period). Nearly all of HarperCollins’ titles published in the last four years, as well as the majority of its entire catalog, are available in electronic reader and tablet formats. With the rapid adoption of electronic formats by consumers, HarperCollins is publishing many titles in digital formats before, or instead of, publishing a print edition. For example, through its popular romance imprint, Avon, HarperCollins launched a “digital-first” series which releases one new title per week in the romance category. The series has already generated three New York Times electronic bestsellers since its launch.