E-book sales at Hachette UK now 5% and catching US

E-book sales at Hachette UK quadrupled in the first quarter of 2011 and are more than 5% of HUK’s trade sales, the company revealed today (3rd May), adding that it was beginning to catch up with the US, where e-books now account for 22% of sales. It projected that e-books could account for up to 10% of revenues in the UK in 2011.

The numbers were revealed as parent company Lagardere released its first quarter results, which showed publishing sales down close to 10% as the company continued to suffer from comparisons with robust sales of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series a year earlier.

In the three months to end March 2011 revenues amounted to €390m (£349.5m) down 9.8% as reported and down 10.4% like-for-like. However, e-book sales momentum "was considerable", up 88% compared to quarter one 2010, and now accounting for 22% of revenue in the US and 5% in the UK. "This development is the result of very brisk sales of e-book readers at the end of the year," the company noted.

Hachette UK said that the e-book market in the UK, until recently estimated to be about two years behind the market in the US, was "growing so fast that it now does not lag that far behind the US".

In the UK Hachette highlighted debuts The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman and three fantasy titles published by Gollancz: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

A number of paperbacks sold "very strongly" including Maggie O’Farrell’s Costa-winning novel The Hand That First Held Mine and Daisy Goodwin’s My Last Duchess (Headline), Harlan Coben’s Caught (Orion), Val McDermid’s Trick of the Dark (Sphere) and David Nicholls’ perennial bestseller One Day (Hodder).

It said its bestselling e-books over the quarter were Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, One Day by David Nicholls, and Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

It was a "good quarter" for HUK's children’s publishing with John Grisham’s first Theodore Boone novel for Hodder an instant bestseller and The House of Night (Atom) and Vampire Diaries (Hodder Children’s Books) series continuing to sell strongly in the period.

It said it expected strong sales in the second quarter of 2011 to come from Jean Auel's Land of Painted Caves (Hodder) and Jeffery’s Deaver’s James Bond novel, Carte Blanche (Hodder), among others.