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Fiction boosts Lagardere in first half

Lagardere has reported sales in its publishing division up 3.1% like-for-like in the first half of 2013 (1.4% in reported terms) to €917m, with activity driven by a "very strong performance in general literature in France, the United Kingdom and the United States" as well as in partworks.

In the UK, the adult trade segment was up 1%, but this positive trend was countered by difficulties in Australia and New Zealand, the company said. Meanwhile business was up 7% in the US, helped by the film Nicholas Sparks' novel Safe Haven. In Spain and Latin America, there was a 7.7% decline attributed to Spain's economic problems which "were not offset by growth in Latin America."

Lagardere said digital books now accounted for 11.3% of Lagardere Publishing's total net sales, up from 8.4% at the end of June 2012. In the US, e-books stood at 34% of adult trade sales in the US (up from 27% at end-June the previous year) and 31% in the UK (up from 22%). In France, digital sales stood at only 3.2% of adult trade sales, but was "rising sharply", Lagardere said.

On Hachette UK's results for the period, c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson said: "Our print sales in the first half of 2013 have been solid and our digital sales are up 40% on this time last year. Our sales over the summer have been particularly strong with Hachette titles in the unprecedented position of holding all four number one positions in the Sunday Times lists for five weeks." August was a "record-breaking month" with all trade divisions recording a "substantial" increase in their digital sales, he added. Biggest sellers included J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo's Calling, John Grisham's The Racketeer and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.

Hely Hutchinson also said the publisher had its strongest ever non-fiction publishing programme for the second half of the year, including books from Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham, Mo Farah and Andy Murray. Among its fiction highlights, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (Little, Brown, October) is "causing an enormous amount of pre-publication excitement and interest," he added.