Revenues in Bloomsbury’s adult trade division soared by 22% in the first six months of the financial year.
Group revenues grew by 4% to £75.3m, up from £72.1m last year, according to the unaudited results revealed on Tuesday (23rd October), and was attributed to the strong performance of the adult titles, and academic and professional content, following a successful year in the same period of 2017.
The independent publisher saw profit before tax grow by 13% to £2.9m compared to £2.5m in 2017 (not allowing associated costs for the acquisition of I B Tauris, a specialist in Middle Eastern and political publishing, for £5.8m, in May.)
In the consumer division, the “strong first half results” were “driven by an excellent adult trade performance”, according to the publisher’s c.e.o. Nigel Newton, with revenue up 22%, Bloomsbury said, from £13m last year to £15.9m in 2018. Success came from both front and backlist titles including the paperback edition of Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie as well as Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini and the film tie-in edition of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Crime and thriller imprint Raven Books, which opened in 2016, is performing well, Bloomsbury said, with notable successes including Silent Companions by Laura Purcell and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
In children’s trade, sales of the Harry Potter series in the first half grew by 5%, “building on the momentum of last year’s Harry Potter 20th anniversary”, with the illustrated version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J K Rowling singled out in particular as a top performer. Meanwhile Sarah J Maas titles continued their bestselling performance, with lower sales due two front list titles compared to four for the same period last year.
In the non-consumer division, there was a strong performance from academic and professional with revenue growth of 9%, up from £16.6 million (2017) to £18.0m at the same point this year.
On the digital front, the six-month period saw Bloomsbury launch two new digital resources, Screen Studies and Bloomsbury Early Years, with a further three new digital resources launching in the second half. We have also launched new, more flexible ways for our customers to buy from us in the form of “Title by Title” acquisition and the Evidence Based Acquisition models. “Title by Title” makes available for the first time some 4,000 backlist Bloomsbury Academic titles as part of the digital resource programme.
On Tuesday (23rd October), the publisher also announced a five-year contract with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales, to provide their members with access to its online UK tax and financial reporting content. “This subscription deal demonstrates the opportunities to market other services to the practice market and further leverage our professional content on new digital platforms,” Newton said.
The publisher said that as sales of trade titles peak for Christmas and with academic titles selling in the autumn, the overall sales to be second-half weighted, as in previous years.
Newton told The Bookseller: “I’m very pleased. It shows how we have built up momentum from the last full year results which we released in May. The adult division had a particularly good performance, where a lot of things went well ranging from Home Fires winning the Women’s prize and The English Patient winning the Golden Man Booker and the successful film adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society helped drive sales of our film tie-in edition. Our e-book sales rose the same period as last year, by 11%.” He also cited Eddo-Lodge’s paperback success as well as the strong performance of Khaled Hosseini.
In terms of ongoing concerns, Newton spoke of how the impact of Brexit remained unclear. “Obviously we have Brexit coming up so we will have to see if there is any macro affect in consumer spending from that but I have no crystal ball.
“We are big supporters of the Publishers’ Association’s campaign against VAT on e-books and I think that is a very positive movement.”
Last year, the Bloomsbury Group’s revenues rose 15% to £72.1m for the first six months of its financial year, helped by J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books which boosted sales in the publisher’s children’s division by 33%.