Bloomsbury shrugs off fall in US sales as British profits leap


Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury today played down a surprise 20 per cent fall in its e-book sales in America as it said demand from consumers is still increasing and blamed the US performance on tough comparisons when it had some big bestsellers a year ago.

Bloomsbury’s UK ebook sales were up 58 per cent.

Pre-tax profits in the six months to August leapt by a third to  £1.1 million as chief executive Nigel Newton’s strategy of diversifying into academic and professional publishing paid off. That division, which generates more predictable revenues than consumer fiction, now generates 43 per cent of operating profit.

Group revenues rose 13 per cent to £49.2 million. Worldwide sales of e-books rose 14 per cent to £5.1 million. Khaled Hosseini’s novel, And The Mountains Echoed, sold around 150,000 on e-book out of its 560,000 sales so far — proof that there is strong, digital demand for literary fiction, said Newton.

He is hopeful that cookery titles will do well in the run-up to Christmas, tipping Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food and Great British Bake-Off judge Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds.