Hachette UK saw physical sales fall 7.4% year-on-year in the third quarter, “due to a less promising publishing schedule in general literature”, according to parent company Lagardere. However “e-books still showed sustained growth, with 34% of net sales in adult trade vs. 31% at the end of September 2013”.
Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson said his business had recorded a “solid performance” in its trade publishing in the third quarter, with sales “building dramatically” in September, while Hodder Education was the “standout performer” for the publisher. Digital sales for the three months to end September were up just under 10% on the same period in 2013, with the publisher citing J K Rowling’s two Robert Galbraith novels The Silkworm (Sphere) and The Cuckoo’s Calling (Little, Brown), Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (Phoenix), and John Grisham’s Sycamore Row (Hodder & Stoughton) as strong sellers.
Hely Hutchinson said: “Hodder Education was the standout performer in the UK group in the quarter with sales up 6.7% at the end of the period against a market decline of 1.3%. We will build on this performance with great publishing to tie in with major curriculum change between 2015 -2017.
“Across the trade divisions, we had a solid performance in the period with sales building dramatically in September. Our digital sales continue to grow due, principally to the breadth and depth of our fiction publishing and, as we look towards Christmas, our sales across the board– and particularly in non fiction – are very strong indeed.”
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Hachette UK said October was a “standout month” for bestsellers, including Martina Cole’s The Good Life (Headline), Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle’s The Second Half (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Phoenix), and Gone Girl (Phoenix). It also said standout non-fiction included the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography There’s Something I’m Dying to Tell You (Coronet), sales of which topped 150,000 across all formats this week.
For Lagardere Publishing as a whole, net sales at 30th September 2014 were €1.467m, down 2% on a reported basis, which Lagardere said was “affected by an unfavourable comparison effect in general literature in France and the United States, as well as the significant impact of the lack of renewals for textbook programmes in France”. Lagardere also blamed Amazon, with which Hachette Book Group in the US has now announced it has reached an agreement, for lower sales in the US in digital and physical.
US sales were down 18.5%, “ strongly influenced by an unfavourable comparison effect with the third quarter of 2013…which had an unusually high number of best-sellers (specifically The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks)”. “In addition, the difficult situation with Amazon, as well as the postponement of some publications, impacted the level of activity,” said Lagardere.
The proportion of sales accounted for by e-books at Lagardere Publishing was down very slightly, 10.4% in 2014 compared to 10.6% at 30th September 2013.
Lagardere said that in the US, net sales of e-books were down to 28% of net sales for trade versus 31% at the end of September 2013, “due notably to Amazon's punitive measures”.