E-book sales for Hachette in the UK and Commonwealth accounted for 25% of adult trade sales in the first quarter of 2012, up from 10% in 2011. However overall Hachette UK and Commonwealth revenue was down by 0.4%, according to parent company Lagardère's first quarter results, with the statement noting "continued difficulties" on the Australian market following the failure of Redgroup early last year.
Lagardère's first quarter results showed net first quarter sales across the parent company group of €1.57bn, down on €1.80bn in the first quarter of 2011, a like-for-like change of -2%. Net sales across Lagardère's Publishing division were down -0.3% on a like-for-like basis in comparison to the same period last year.
E-books continued their "strong growth" across Lagardère Publishing and were worth 9% of sales at at the end of March 2012, compared to 6% at the same point in 2011. In the US, e-books now account for 28% of net adult trade sales, up from 20% in 2011, with total sales in the US up 2.8%.
In a separate statement, Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson said e-book sales now account for 20%, and "in the case of certain fiction titles", over 30% of sales of adult titles, with e-books making up an average of 25% of adult trade sales for the publisher. Digital sales in the first quarter of 2012 are up by 250% on the same period in 2011.
Hely Hutchinson said: "The first quarter of the year is always the smallest, and we are officially back in recession, so I am delighted that Hachette UK has started the year so well and ended the quarter ahead of our budget.
"We have already published 12 number one bestsellers and this is an excellent prelude to what will be a standout year for the group." He mentioned highlights to come as including new titles from Antony Beevor, Michael Palin, Miranda Hart, Will Young, Gordon Ramsay, Martina Cole, J K Rowling, Ian Rankin and Kate Mosse, saying: "These and others [are] making up the strongest lists we have ever published in one year."
He also added: "As always we are focused on publishing the best books getting them to consumers wherever they want to buy them and we are very focused on communicating with our consumers, providing the best service for them wherever and however they buy their books. Our Customer Insight Day for staff in September, following our Digital Ideas Day two years ago, will be another key moment in our development as the market-leading digital publisher."
In other markets, the Lagardère quarter one results reported a downturn of activity in France of -3.5%, and in Spain, of -11.6%. "Good performances" were noted in the "Encyclopaedias & Collections" segment, particularly in Japan.