Book Publishing revenues were up $9.6 million in 2008 excluding the impact of foreign exchange.
- North America Retail was up $13.3 million,
- North America Direct-To- Consumer was down $6.4 million and
- Overseas was up $2.7 million.
Book Publishing operating profits were up $9.2 million in 2008 excluding the impact of foreign exchange.
- North America Retail was up $8.6 million,
- North America Direct-To- Consumer was down $0.6 million and
- Overseas was up $1.2 million. North America Retail operating profits were up $8.6 million in 2008.
The increase was driven by higher revenues, including the effect of positive adjustments to prior period returns provisions, with more books sold in both series and single title formats.
Significant progress has been made in improving the efficiency of the retail business resulting in a higher percentage of books sold relative to books distributed. Promotional spending was higher in 2008, supporting the higher revenues. North America Direct-To-Consumer operating profits were down $0.6 million in 2008.
The traditional direct-to-consumer business continued to face the challenge of a declining customer base which was reflected in the lower revenues. Offsetting the revenue decline from fewer direct mail customers were improved payment rates and lower promotional costs resulting from smaller, more effective, direct mail campaigns. Internet sales were higher in the year for both printed and digital books.
Harlequin continues to expand its digital book sales releasing all new North American titles, more than 100 each month, in digital format. Overseas operating profit was up $1.2 million in 2008 with growth in most markets.
In 2008, the Japanese operation entered into an agreement with SoftBank Creative Corp., (a division of Softbank Corp., one of the largest providers of cell phone services in Japan) to distribute digital manga (comic) content on cell phones and Internet distribution sites. Contribution from this business more than offset lower book sales in Japan. The U.K. business faced the challenge of increased printing costs as the Pound Sterling depreciated in value relative to the Euro as well as higher provisions for bad debts due to the bankruptcy of one of their distributors. The Nordic group continued their trend of the past two years with growth in their markets. Investment spending in India was up slightly in 2008 as the business was launched in the first quarter of the year.