Hachette Livre US e-book sales nearly 25% of total

E-book sales by Hachette Livre in the United States are in line with the national average, according to the group's chairman and c.e.o. Arnaud Nourry.

He told the Buzz Média service of the French daily Le Figaro that e-books have increased their share of the US book market to 23% in terms of volume since the beginning of the year from 10% or 8% in value in 2010. He said: "This corresponds to what we have found with our sales."

Last year, the US book market fell slightly in value, but grew slightly in volume, with coffee table books remaining stable, paperbacks declining and electronic versions exploding. It was "as though e-books were to an extent replacing paperbacks", he said.

Defending agency pricing, he said it was "invented" as a contractual alternative to a fixed price law because "major international publishers wanted to control retail prices in order to prevent world operators like Amazon, Apple and Google using books as a loss leader to sell their technology". Margins on electronic equipment are so much higher than the small loss on e-books that "this is a good model for them. But it is fatal for us", he added.

Separately, the group has just acquired publisher Albert René, which holds the rights to cartoon character Asterix. It already controlled 60% of the capital.