August marked a “record-breaking month” in e-books for Hachette UK, with digital sales up 80% year-on-year.
The third quarter financial results for Lagadere, Hachette UK’s parent company, showed overall sales in the three months to 30th September dropped by 2.9% like-for-like to €1.9bn, while sales in its publishing division dipped by 4.1% to €580m.
Sales for the nine months to 30th September decreased by 1.1% like-for-like to £5.3bn, while sales from publishing activities dipped by 0.2% to €1.5bn.
But Hachette UK saw a “very strong summer quarter” from July to September and “a record-breaking August” helped by J K Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me? and John Grisham’s The Racketeer.
Other bestsellers in the period included Ian Banks’ final novel The Quarry, Neil Gaimain’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and ongoing sales of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
E-book sales during the summer months were also strong, with sales up a “record-breaking” 80% in August and 32% in July in comparison to the previous years. E-book sales accounted for 30% of the adult trade market in the UK in the third quarter, up 10 percentage points from last year. Hachette UK now sells e-books in 190 territories worldwide.
Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson commented: “The summer months were exceptional for us, with a number of standout achievements including holding all the number one slots on the Sunday Times bestseller lists for five weeks and a record-breaking month of e-book sales in August.
"We are now looking at a very strong last quarter from every division in the group.”
He added that the “headline-grabbing titles” for the group were Alex Ferguson’s autobiography, Martina Cole’s The Revenge, I am Malala and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Hely Hutchinson said that the titles, “together with exceptionally strong and varied lists in fiction and non fiction from across the group, are contributing to an outstanding year for Hachette UK".
Despite no curriculum change this September, Hachette UK’s education arm performed strongly in the period.
Lagadere reported that general literature sales across the group’s publishing division were “uneven” with activity in the UK and France suffering from a negative comparison to the year before. Sales of general literature for Hachette UK were down by 3.9%, impacted by “the sharp downturn in international activities in New Zealand and Australia” and the unfavourable comparison linked to the release of J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy in September last year.
However, activity in the United States enjoyed a “dynamic” quarter, with sales up 11%, the company reported.