Bloomsbury e-book growth "significant"

Bloomsbury's e-book sales topped £1.1m in the first three months of 2011, as the company reported its unaudited preliminary results for the fourteen months ended 28th February 2011.

Revenue across the group was £103.4m for the period, reported as the publisher has changed its year end to 28th February, compared to £87.2m for the 12 months ended 31st December 2009.

However, pre-tax profit fell from £7.1m at year end December 2009, to £4.2m to 28th February 2011, down again from £5.5m reported at year end 31st December 2010. The publisher attributed this to the amortisation of assets, and costs relating to its restructuring, an "aborted class one acquisition" and its move to new offices in London this summer.

In his chief executive's statement Nigel Newton said in 2010 and 2011 e-book sales had "seen significant growth", adding that "since the last quarter of 2010, the UK has also begun to experience a surge in demand". Bloomsbury's e-book sales have grown from £79,000 in 2009, to £1.5m in 2010, with sales from January to March 2011 reaching £1.1m. He added that, with the Kindle now "firmly established in the UK market and recently launched in Germany, there is now a focused effort to sell e-books throughout the world".

He also said: "The retail landscape is changing with more titles being sold online or through supermarkets, in e-book or print format. The impact of digitisation is becoming considerable and acquiring world English language rights is of premier importance in the digital future."

He highlighted titles such as Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus, Alex Bellos' Alex's Adventures in Numberland and Just Kids by Patti Smith, citing Bloomsbury's seven hardback and three paperback UK bestsellers in the period.

The statement reported UK revenues for the 14-month period as £70.6m, up from £58.9m to year end 2009, which Newton said was "primarily due to the success of the adult list and the full period's trading of Bloomsbury Professional which was acquired in July 2009". In the US, revenue was at £21.7m, a "record performance" for the territory, with Newton citing new e-book agreements, most particularly with Barnes & Noble, as contributing to "significantly" increased e-book sales. Revenues in Continental Europe were at £10.1m for the period and Australia at £965,000.

Looking ahead, Newton said: "This is an exciting time for Bloomsbury: demand and digital delivery, including e-books, is increasing significantly; it will change the publishing business model creating one worldwide market.

"The recent organisation change is already bringing benefits to the group, enabling us to better exploit that worldwide market as a global publisher in print and digital. We have a strong balance sheet and an excellent management team, so are well placed to exploit future opportunities as we enter our 25th anniversary year."