Hachette UK’s sales are up 1.4% in the first quarter of 2018, spurred on by Michael Wolff's January bestseller Fire and Fury (Little, Brown Book Group).
According to Lagardère, Hachette UK’s parent company, the insider's account of Donald Trump’s election vistory and first months in the White House helped the UK to achieve “good business momentum”. David Shelley, c.e.o. Hachette UK, agreed the book had made "a major impact".
Fire and Fury became an international publishing phenomenon after a leak of its contents by the Guardian prompted the President to try and quash its publication with "cease and desist" notices. At the time, commentators noted Trump himself was helping to boost sales of the book by tweeting his anger about it. Wolff subsequently told The Bookseller, “Every time the president would do something it was like, 'Can god smile on one man this much?'”
Stock shortages of the title at bookshops also helped to increase demand. To date it has sold 174,331 copies across all print editions for £2.6m in the UK, according to Nielsen.
Commenting on the results, Shelley said: "I am delighted to add that Hachette UK had a standout first quarter, ending the period considerably ahead of budget and of the same period last year."
He said Hachette UK had outperformed the TCM in the period, with year-on-year value growth of 4.7%, giving it a market share of 12.3% (up from 12% in 2017).
As well as Fire and Fury, Shelley credited strong sales of paperbacks published during the period, such as David Lagercrantz’s Millenium 5 (MacLehose Press), Michael Connelly’s Late Show (Orion) John Grisham’s Camino Island (Hodder), JP Delaney’s The Girl Before, Peter May’s I’ll Keep You Safe (Quercus), Mark Billingham’s Love Like Blood and Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent (Sphere). Well-being titles, including Fearne Cotton’s Calm (Orion Spring) and The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray (Aster), also made "a significant contributions to sales", he said.
While Wolff's Fire and Fury is published by Macmillan in the States, Lagardère Publishing achieved a sizeable sales uplift of 5.4% in the US which it attributed to the continued success of its backlist, especially Pete Souza's Obama: An Intimate Portrait, and by a “busy” release schedule at Grand Central Publishing and Perseus.
Growth continued in France (up 1.7%), buoyed by Larousse, Le Livre de Poche paperbacks and Illustrated Books and in Spain and Latin America (up 4.3%), driven by nursery education in Spain.
Partworks (collectable series) also had a positive start to the year, enjoying what Lagardère described as “vigorous growth”, up 6.3%.
E-book sales made up a slightly smaller proportion of sales compared to last year: they accounted for 9.1% of total Lagardère Publishing revenue in first-quarter 2018 versus 10% in the same period in 2017.
Overall revenue for Lagardère’s publishing division totalled €442m, up 2.9% like-for-like (up 0.5% on a consolidated basis). Lagardère emphasised that the first quarter “traditionally makes a relatively low contribution to the year as a whole”.
The results follow Hachette Group c.e.o. Arnaud Nourry's confirmation this month that Lagardère has taken the decision to invest the proceeds of ongoing or future divestments in the growth of Lagardère Publishing.