Digital Sales Grow 87% at Quarto, Still Just 2.2% of Overall

Despite nearly doubling in the first half of the year, digital sales are still just a small percentage of overall revenue for The Quarto Group, a London-based publisher of illustrated books.

Digital sales were up 87% to $1.6 million from in the six months ending June 30, 2012 versus the year-earlier period, representing 2.2% of revenues, according to a company earnings announcement. Overall revenues were up 1% to $73.2 million and profit was up 6% to $3.7 million.

While “performance exceeded expectations,” according to chairman and CEO of the company Laurence Orbach, digital is just not a big business yet for Quarto.

For digital publishing observers, the question is, are illustrated books just slow to go digital or is there not much of a digital future for the sort of books Quarto and others specialize in?

According to a recent story in The Bookseller, the digital market doesn’t yet exist for illustrated books. Publishing consultant (and DBW partner) Mike Shatzkin thinks there may not be a strategy for illustrated book publishers to survive the e-book revolution.

Perhaps Quarto believes its newest senior executive will have the answer. Marcus Leaver, formerly the CEO of Sterling Publishing, another publisher of illustrated books, was named the company’s chief operating officer in April. He is expected to succeed Orbach as CEO next year.

Related: Marcus Leaver: Staying Relevant Biggest Challenge to Publishers, Not E-Books


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