This week the vast majority of major publishers have released financial figures for the first six months of 2016. Simon & Schuster and Hachette experienced declines in e-book sales and gave generalized figures. Things are so bad at Penguin Random House that they did not even break down digital sales, they merely said there was a “reduced demand for e-books.”
The U.S. business published 316 New York Times print and e-book bestsellers in H1 2016 (2015 H1: 306). The division achieved tremendous success with two previously published novels by Jojo Moyes: Me Before You, the basis for the hit film, and its sequel After You, which together, in print and digital, sold more than 2.4 million copies. Marie Kondo is another half-year million-copy author, with her 2014 nonfiction The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy, published in January. Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train sold an additional 800,000 copies in all formats. Other newly published number one Adult titles for the period were When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi; Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben; Extreme Prey by John Sandford; and Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s books sold almost three-million copies in H1, and books by Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, Rick Yancey, Eric Carle, and R.J. Palacio delivered strong children’s sales.
The UK business published titles which made 570 appearances on the 2016 H1 Sunday Times bestseller lists (2015 H1: 471). Continuing demand for The Girl on the Train resulted in more than 1.1 million print and e-books sold during the six months. Additional key titles are Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes, in tandem selling 1.2 million copies; Mary Berry: Foolproof Cooking; The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson; and the paperback reprint of Lee Child’s Make Me.
In the second half of this year Penguin Random House is expecting success with new books by Jay Asher, Margaret Atwood, Johanna Basford, Dan Brown, Bill Bryson, Johnny Cash, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Phil Collins, Pat Conroy, Clive Cussler, Janet Evanovich, Carrie Fisher, Ina Garten, John Grisham, Robert Harris, Carl Hiaasen, P.D. James, Jeff Kinney, John le Carré, Ian McEwan, Jojo Moyes, Jamie Oliver, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, Rick Riordan, Philip Roth, John Sandford, Zadie Smith, Danielle Steel, and Zoe Sugg; as well as such major movie tie-ins as The Girl on the Train; Jack Reacher 2; Dan Brown’s Inferno; and Rogue One, the new Star Wars™ film.
I think its very interesting that Penguin Random House refuses to break down e-book sales. Almost every major publisher discloses this type of information or at the very least, talks about what percentage of their business derives from digital content.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.