15 April 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Yesterday it was announced that Moody’s has downgraded Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s rating, which sounds sort of familiar . . . probably because they did the same thing last December.

This isn’t good news for the Education Media & Publishing Group—which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands and owns HMH—but rather than pick on HMH for its mishandling of Drenka Willen’s retirement, or for telling the media about their freeze on acquisitions, I’d rather just point out the frightening statistic that triggered this downgrading:

Moody’s maintains that HMH remains vulnerable to state and local spending in the United States on so-called basal and supplemental K-12 (twelfth grade) educational publications. It says those categories posted a 22.8pc decline in sales in January 2009. (from Independent.ie)

A 22.8% decline in sales in one month is pretty severe, especially when talking about educational publications. Book sales overall were flat in January, although they did plunge in February (like all other retail sales) by more than 10%.

On the positive side of things, Cees Nooteboom—one of Drenka’s authors—has been getting some good buzz for Nomad’s Hotel, such as this write-up in Flavorpill’s Daily Dose. And Filip Florian—another HMH author whose Little Fingers sounds pretty interesting, and is under review—will be the feature author at the Observer Translation Project next month.

17 March 09 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

After a dip in the fall, the number of books sold in France rose 2 percent in December from a year earlier and 2.4 percent in January, according to Livres Hebdo, a trade publication.

The trend has been similar in Germany, where the number of books sold rose 2.3 percent in January, according to the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, a trade organization. Analysts say many other European markets have also shown gains.

15 January 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

In contrast to the news from the NEA about adult reading, here’s some more sobering info from Publishers Weekly:

November bookstore sales were as bad as people thought they were. Preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that sales dropped 13% in the month, falling to $1.05 billion. Sales for all of retail were off 10%. For the 11 month period, bookstore sales were flat at $14.8 billion, while sales for the entire retail segment fell 0.7%.

Gulp.

18 October 07 | Chad W. Post | Comments [2]

Related to my comment yesterday that publishers love to exaggerate sales figures, comes this little nugget about Booker Prize winner Anne Enright:

The latest British figures from Nielsen BookScan show that, since it was published in May, only 3,306 copies have been sold in hardback, with a further 381 in paperback. Enright’s publisher said that the actual figure was 35,000, including sales in Europe.

Huh. I know Nielsen BookScan is only 70% accurate, but this seems ridiculous. Maybe they did sell 30,000 copies through the Jonathan Cape website—who am I to say they’re exaggerating?

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