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Embattled Cassell slumps to fresh loss

Sales of Nick Hornby's first novel, High Fidelity, and an increase in overseas sales were not enough to save niche publisher Cassell from plunging further into the red in difficult market conditions.

Best known for its dictionaries and its mix of best sellers and academic works, Cassell turned in a pre-tax loss of pounds 632,000 on a turnover of pounds 8.8m for the first half. This compares with a loss of pounds 179,000 on pounds 9.7m turnover for the same period in 1994.

No figures for the number of sales on High Fidelity are yet available, but the chairman, Philip Sturrock, said that the success of Hornby's first novel had played a crucial part in stemming further losses. A new Catechism of the Catholic Church also made significant contributions to sales.

Floated in June last year, Cassell has been hit harder than usual by the vagaries of book buying habits where the traditional skew is to the second half of the year, including both the peak academic buying period and the Christmas season. Academic sales through Pinter, cquired in February, also increased and exports leapt ahead. The company is banking on a much improved second half which will see it launch at least 500 books, bringing the total for the full year to 775 compared with 600 in 1994.