Review of the year: January to March

Review of the year: January to March

As the year comes to an end, we take a look back at the big stories in publishing in 2015. First up, January to March.

January

The year started with good news from Christmas, with high street chain retailers buoyed by successful Christmas trading. Among the successes was Waterstones, whose core Christmas sales were up by more than 5% year-on-year, although lower Kindle device sales (something that would lead Waterstones to make a big decision later in the year) led to a hit on overall revenue.

Hodder Education purchased independent publisher Rising Stars, and said the acquisition would triple the Hachette UK company’s primary school takeover.

Industry insiders gave their predictions for the year ahead, with many saying changes to VAT on e-books and digital subscription services were set to be talking points in 2015.

Little, Brown announced Ursula Mackenzie would work on special projects for the publisher from July onwards until her retirement at the end of 2016. David Shelley was announced as the incoming c.e.o.– it would not be Shelley’s final promotion of the year, and his takeover at Little, Brown led to a debate about women in senior positions in publishing.

Jon Butler left Pan Macmillan ahead of becoming the new m.d. of Quercus, with Robin Harvie stepping into Butler’s role as non-fiction publisher at Pan Macmillan.

It was reported that Waterstones was in talks to buy Tesco’s blinkbox Books, a deal which didn’t work out. Tesco announced later in the month that it was to close down blinkbox Books. Audiobook streaming service Bardowl also announced its closure.

A merger was announced between Springer Science+Business Media and the majority of Holtzbrinck-owned Macmillan Science and Education. The new company would be called Springer Nature.

Helen Macdonald (above) won the £30,000 Costa Book of the Year Award for her book H is for Hawk (Cape). At the ceremony author Robert Harris launched an attack on the BBC for its lack of books coverage on television.

Paul Currie was announced as the new c.e.o. of Foyles, to start in February. Outgoing c.e.o. Sam Husain, retired on his 68th birthday but remains a non-executive director of the bookseller.

Rachel Cugnoni was promoted to publishing director of Vintage, following Dan Franklin’s decision to step down from the position, and Kieron Smith, former m.d. of The Book Depository, was announced as the new digital director of Blackwell’s.

HarperCollins finalised the move to its new office in London Bridge (pictured above, the office's wall of books).

February

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Puffin) and Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Walker) notched up their 1,000th week in BookScan’s Total Consumer Market Top 5,000.

In the first of a number of “surprise” books of the year, it was announced that a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (above) had been rediscovered, and would be published in the summer.

James Patterson was the most borrowed author in UK libraries for the eighth year running, according to data released by Public Lending Right (PLR).

Michael Joseph announced the publication of After You, a new book by Jojo Moyes – a sequel to her bestselling novel Me Before You.

March

Pan Macmillan bought Collector’s Library for an undisclosed sum. Meanwhile, The Folio Society confirmed 12 members of staff left the business as a result of a “fundamental restructure” of the company.

Writer Mal Peet died after being diagnosed with cancer. The award-winning author was described as a “writer’s writer” by his agent Peter Cox.

A new task force for libraries, Leadership for Libraries, met for the first time. One of its main aims is to highlight the variety of roles libraries play in their communities. It did not, however, prevent more councils from shutting libraries or handing them over to volunteers in 2015.

The Book People announced a company-wide restructure.

At the IPG Awards, Search Press was named Independent Publisher of the Year, while companies including Faber Factory, Liverpool University Press and Carcanet Press also won awards.

Ahead of the General Election, trade bodies told The Bookseller they wanted the new government to focus on copyright, libraries and retails, as well as VAT rates on e-books.

The industry suffered another huge loss, with the passing of Terry Pratchett, who died seven years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Canongate restructured, with Jamie Byng moving into the new position of c.e.o., and Jenny Todd named publisher.

Louise O’Neill (above) won the inaugural YA Book Prize, run by The Bookseller, with her feminist dystopia Only Ever Yours (Quercus).

After 10 years at Orion, it was announced that Kate Mosse would be moving to Pan Macmillan’s Mantle imprint for her next book, due out in 2018. She was not the last high-profile author to move publishers in 2015.

Akhil Sharma (above) won the Folio Prize for his book Family Life (Faber & Faber). 2015 marked the second year of the prize, with big news to come later in the year about its future.

The Bookseller announced the 10 titles in contention for the inaugural Book of the Year award, to be presented as part of The Bookseller Industry Awards.