Courier Corp. is getting into the self-publishing business, acquiring FastPencil, the self-publishing platform that in mid April signed an agreement to support Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, the revamped version of PubIt!.
Courier is one of the largest book manufacturers in the country and company chairman Jim Conway said the purchase of FastPencil will give FastPencil’s customers the “ability to deliver top-quality books at attractive prices, on short order and in virtually any run length.” Courier also owns publishers Creative Homeowner, Dover, and REA and the deal, Courier said, will give FastPencil “access to Courier’s nationwide publishing sales force and relationships with thousands of retailers, from major booksellers to museums, crafts shops and gift stores.”
According to Courier, FastPencil has relationships with more than 60,000 self-publishing content creators involving over 50,000 active projects. “We are thrilled to be joining forces with Courier,” said FastPencil co-founder and CEO Steve Wilson. “In doing so, we are not only gaining a world-class print partner, but also enabling our authors to reach out to a far wider audience and increase their potential sales by an order of magnitude."
In financial news, Courier reported that sales for the second quarter ended March 30, 2013 fell slightly, falling to $61.8 million from $62.4 million in the comparable period in 2012. Net income declined to $336,000 from $440,000. Sales in its manufacturing segment rose by just under 1%, to $55.9 million led by an 11% increase in trade book manufacturing that offset an 8% decline in the education segment and flat sales in religion. For the first half of fiscal 2013, sales in the education segment were up 4%, up 3% in religion, and down 2% in trade.
In its publishing operations, sales fell to $9.3 million from $9.6 million, but the struggling division’s bottom line improved. Creative Homeowner “actually turned a profit” Conway said in a release. Sales at Dover were flat as e-book sales helped to offset a decline in print and the imprint cut its loss by 50% from last year’s second quarter. REA was at about breakeven for the quarter. “Our publishing segment continues to reduce costs and sharpen its focus,” Conway said.
For the first six months of fiscal 2013, total sales were up by about 1%, to $126.5 million, and net income was $2.7 million compared to $1.9 million a year ago. For the full year, Courier expects sales to rise between 2% and 8%.