'Essex Serpent' helps Profile to 7% sales rise

'Essex Serpent' helps Profile to 7% sales rise

Turnover at Profile Books was up nearly 7% to £12.6m in the financial year to March 2017, in a "strong" year for the company.

The year saw the publisher's turnover increase by 6.6% to £12.6m and operating profit stand at just over £1.3m, the same as it was for the previous year.  Export sales saw a "record-breaking" year, up 10% on the previous year, with "stellar" results in Australia and Europe, Profile said.

The publisher counts the publication of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (published by Profile imprint Serpent's Tail) as contributing towards the company's "great year". The novel scooped Waterstones Book of the Year and the British Book Awards for Fiction Book of the Year, Book of the Year, and Publicity Campaign of the Year. It has sold 287,566 copies across all editions, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Mary Beard’s SPQR was also a stand-out title for the publisher, selling 170,603 copies, according to Nielsen Bookscan, and Alan Bennett’s latest diaries, published jointly with Faber & Faber, performed strongly on release last autumn, the publisher said.

Other highlights of the past year include Mathew Parris’ Scorn reissue; Murder Under the Christmas Tree, a collection of crime short stories compiled by Profile editor Cecily Gayford; Susan Hill’s Travelling Bag; and the paperback edition of Simon Bradley’s The Railways.

The company was also enthused with the performance of its backlist, which saw Beard and Atul Gawande selling "strongly".

The current financial year has "started well" with the paperback edition of The Essex Serpent and Michael Haag’s The Durrells of Corfu - a Waterstones Book of the Month in April - said the publisher. The company is looking forward to a "strong" autumn with highlights including Alan Bennett in paperback; Susan Hill’s Jacob’s Room is Full of Books, the follow-up to Howard’s End is on the Landing; Ruth Rendell’s unpublished short stories, A Spot of Folly; The Diary of a Bookseller by Scottish second-hand Bookshop owner, Shaun Bythell; and a new collection of Christmas murder stories – Murder On Christmas Eve.

Andrew Franklin, managing director, said he was "inordinately proud" of the authors and books the company publishes, citing them as the reason for "another great year".

Franklin also highlighted the "extraordinary support" of Waterstones and the health of the company's backlist.

“If our results show anything, it is that it’s always better to read books than balance sheets. There are other reasons for success this year as well", he said. "Firstly, the extraordinary support from Waterstones, now a chain bookseller every other country must envy. The tentative green shoots of revival of high street bookshops is something we should all be celebrating. Secondly, of course, luck always plays its part too. Thirdly, like many publishers this year, we have been delighted to see sales up across all parts of the backlist – after all, their longevity is one of the hallmarks of great books and what marks them apart from other forms of cultural activity. And finally, I must thank my amazing colleagues here whose hard work makes all the difference.”