Canongate Books has reported a record-breaking year with group consolidated turnover of £13.9m, 16% up on its 2019 result of £11.9m.
Pretax profit grew to £2.6m in the 12 months to 31st December 2020, with the group paying its authors and their agents £3.4m, representing 24.5% of the company’s turnover.
Canongate itself saw turnover grow 26% from £9.4m to £11.8m with pre-tax profit increasing from £342,000 to £2.2m. Backlist sales reached £4.1m, an 11% increase on 2019.
The e-book and audio divisions also delivered impressive numbers with a combined year end of £2.4m, a growth of 62% on 2019.
Canongate imprint Severn House saw turnover fall 11.5% to £2.3m, a decline primarily attributed to the postponement of a third of frontlist publishing into 2021. However, its pretax profit grew 3% to £545,000.
Canongate c.e.o. and publisher Jamie Byng said: "2020 was a year full of uncertainties and unprecedented challenges for everyone and for every business. However, the publishing sector was fortunate in being relatively unscathed compared to others, and the pandemic and the various lockdowns made books play a more important role in people’s lives than ever. This has been one of the few silver linings in what has been an unquestionably tough year.
"Consequently, we saw a sizeable uplift in sales and across every part of the Canongate business in 2020 and we ended up having a record-breaking year, both in terms of turnover and profitability. The resilience of our business is matched by the resilience of our skilled and dedicated team and all the superb authors we publish, without whom none of the above would have been possible. And it was gratifying that this overall performance was recognized by Canongate being crowned Independent Publisher of the Year [at The British Book Awards] for the third time.
"This outstanding performance has continued into 2021 and has helped us to the strongest first half year in the company’s history. And with an exceptional autumn publishing programme in place, and the ongoing success of the Severn House imprint, I am confident that we can follow 2020 with another stellar set of results.”
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