December 18, 2015
After removing its books from Amazon, children’s publisher reports record profits
by Kait Howard
Three and a half years after pulling its entire list off Amazon, children’s book publisher Educational Development Corp (EDC) reports soaring profits.
The move by the Tulsa-based company, which primarily sells books developed in England by Usborne Books, drew widespread attention and a profile by The New York Times’ David Streitfeld when it announced a direct challenge to Amazon in the spring of 2012.
Now, with sales up significantly from last year, the decision appears to be paying off better than expected. As Jim Milliot reports for Publishers Weekly, EDC’s sales during the six-month period ending August 31 jumped to $22.2 million, an amazing increase of 59% compared to the same period in 2014, raising their net income by 300% during the period and prompting the company’s stock to rise from $4.69 per share on June 1 to $14.48 per share on December 10.
Furthermore, EDC’s chairman, president, and CEO Randall White said that the company showed astounding growth during the first nine months of the fiscal year, with revenue at “an estimated $47 million—far higher than the $32 million in sales the company generated for the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, 2015.”
According to Milliot, White “traces the current growth spurt to his highly publicized decision three years ago to stop selling books through Amazon.” Unlike most publishers, EDC sells most of its titles through a network of direct “sales consultants,” and it faced an exodus of consultants who were losing business to the online retail behemoth. Since the decision to pull its books from Amazon’s inventory, however, EDC has seen a huge increase in the number of consultants lining up to sell its titles (and a huge increase in the sales generated by these consultants)—the company has added an unprecedented 7,000 reps since June.
“I’m a Type A . . . I don’t mind a fight,” White told Streitfeld when he made the call to pull their catalog from Amazon, a move many predicted would cost them 6 percent of their annual revenue. In some ways it’s fortifying that the publisher of such children’s classics as Look Inside Your Body and Everybody Poops has succeeded in spite of Amazon. With its unusual sales apparatus and unique distribution relationship with a British company, EDC may be a special case. Still, it’s hard to keep from gazing ebulliently at their remarkable turnaround.
Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.