Hachette UK sales were down by 5.2% in the first quarter, due to lower e-book sales.
Digital sales have been hurt by the “negative comparison effects” following the introduction of the new agency agreement in July 2015.
Tim Hely Hutchinson, c.e.o of Hachette UK, said digital sales would “probably give rise to negative year-on-year comparisons for at least another quarter”.
He added: "Digital sales were on budget but, in line with the rest of the industry, are below sales for the same time last year."
Hachette UK parent company Lagardère reported its first quarter sales for the publishing division were down 2.1% like-for-like and totalled €415m (£328.19m), but cautioned that the first quarter traditionally makes a lower contribution to the year as a whole.
Sales in its French division were down 2.2%, while US sales were down 10.3%. The Spanish/Latin America unit was up 31.2% by comparison, thanks to a “one-off export operation to Latin America”.
Despite the decline in revenue, Hely Hutchinson said Hachette UK’s first quarter results were “above expectation” highlighting sales at Octopus continuing well, with Hodder Education seeing a similarly good start to the year, “with a very strong performance in primary education”.
He named Deliciously Ella Everyday (Yellow Kite), the paperback of The Girl in the Spider’s Web (MacLehose Press) Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Romanovs (W&N) and the launch of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia (Orion) as being stand out titles from the quarter.
Meanwhile, Hely Hutchinson highlighted the company’s success at London Book Fair last month, bagging Happiness for Humans by Paul Reizin (Little, Brown), which sold rights in 13 languages and Ragdoll by Danny Cole, which was snapped up by Orion’s new imprint Trapeze and also sold into multiple territories.
Hely Hutchinson added: “Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley), Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre) published two weeks ago and Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must be the Place (Tinder Press) published next week are just two highlights this spring with plans gathering momentum for the publication of the biggest book of the year, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown) at the end of July.”
He also hailed Hodder Education’s award as Educational Publisher of the Year for the second consecutive year at the British Book Industry Awards and Book of the Year (and Debut Fiction Book of the Year) for Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney (John Murray) and Non-Fiction Book of the Year for Lars Mytting’s Norwegian Wood (MacLehose Press).