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For two of the major publishers in the US, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the resilience of books as people sought solace, entertainment, and escape during a dark 18 months. Both HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster have posted excellent results, with revenue at HarperCollins up 19% for the year ending 30 June 2021 and revenue at S&S up 9.5% for the second quarter of 2021.
HarperCollins worldwide CEO Brian Murray said that revenue was up by double digits in nearly every country the publisher operates telling Publishers Weekly: “We set records by any metric you use.”
HarperCollins saw bigger increases in print sales than digital and he praised Barnes & Noble chief executive James Daunt for the continuing turnaround in the all-important US chain. He said that research by the publisher indicated there was no let-up in people’s desire for books, with the pandemic arguably instilling a new habit as people turned to books during a difficult period.
S&S CEO Jonathan Karp, whose company is expected to become part of Penguin Random House by the end of the year, also hailed the turnaround at Barnes & Noble and said that its international publishers had performed well too. He has at least two big hopefuls for Christmas. There is a countdown clock on S&S’s website marking the days until the 28 September publication of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the new title from Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See; and there is to be a new book from Bob Woodward, the veteran Washington Post reporter whose Fear: Trump in the White House and Rage so angered President Trump. Karp won’t reveal the subject of the new book, but confirmed: “it will be newsworthy”.
Commenting on the results overall and what he sees as a permanent shift in people’s reading and book buying, Murray said: “It is a terrific time to be in the publishing business.”